"Yangtse Blues" - Bob Ambrose


"Yangtze Blues" - Bob Ambrose 
Three Gorges Dam Memorial Park, China
January 4, 2013

Far away, well east of Eden
virile rivers carved a valley
through the age of long ago.

Now stretching out in black earth flatness
cotton patch competes with paddy
tractor vies with buffalo
below the rolling orange groves
with fences lined in climbing jasmine
border rows of sycamore.

Here in the highlands of Hubei
I can hear its song
rising out of mist and mountain
gray home of gods now gone
refuge of wayfaring mystic and misfit
place where the wild torrent
courses through gorges
once upon some time ago.

But now the long river
flat and heavy
murky deepness drowns Three Gorges
sighs behind a concrete slab
controlled and still
until release.

To wander
ancient river plains
that birthed and nurtured
feudal lords

a brand new land
of grit and coal
of dusky skies
that smother cities

town and village
torn and pillaged
taken into concrete

borg till onward
into paradise
of tollway road

and high rise rows
in cities of ten million
souls, new centers

that were meant
to sparkle, broker
fortunes, beckon

dreams and draw
beleaguered masses
forward, soar

into the gray-brown
skyscape, lined
with cranes

and belching stacks
that stitch the land

and sky with smog
and seal the earth

beneath the load
of human progress.

East meets West
and ups the ante

heeds the siren
staggers forward

fading into midday haze.

And from the highlands of Hubei
so very far away from Eden
I can hear the good earth groaning
crushed beneath a billion souls
just seeking their century
salvation in wealth.

And so the modern world goes
as Gaia sighs and turns to stone
to wait upon a wiser age
when sages and keepers
will come once again.

from "Drunken Robins" - David Oates


from Drunken Robins - David Oates

waiting for job interview
he buffs his shoes
on the back of his pants

holding tiny frog in her hands
the look on six year old's face

She walks in the meadow
a quail flies up
two hearts race

such break dancers
even the pickpocket
stops to watch

she practices drawing on

off the freeway
among gas and burger joints
bird's call

rushing by the scenic overlook -- again.

the land is dark
the sky shines bright
in a cow pond

digging in
his pocket for change

Drunken Robins by David Oates was published by Brick Road Poetry Press in 2011.

"January flu" - M. Bromberg


"January flu" - M. Bromberg

Hiding from the world with the January flu
seems the best thing for a week or two.
The holidays are over and the bills come due.
You're in bed with the nose-wipes and the medicine too.

A cup of strong tea with some whiskey in it
will set you straight -- if just for a minute.
Then it's off to dreamland, and there's no limit
to what your clogged noggin has got in it.

What scares you the most is sure to be there
nesting in cranium and the roots of your hair,
or hiding in wait behind some surrealist's stair,
to give you the shivers in chilly night air.

But sooner or later you'll have to surface
to go take a piss or some other purpose.
You can't hide forever, no matter how worthless
the month of mucus or its worst of curses.

Once you've beaten the first-month flu
you'll remember how many things you must do.
Start with some lines for the poetry few,
and hope February doesn't have its own wretched due.

"Frankenstein" - Elsa Russo


I have become Frankenstein
There’s a hole in my head where the sun won’t shine
Where all the dark thoughts creep in and define

Combine refine entwine and redefine me
Until I’m as dark as I can be
And you can’t even see

That we will be the cause of my explosion
As I follow my dark compulsion
Through the haze of my expulsion

From the arms of my dear friends
Whose unending patience is at an end
Towards sicker things I do bend

And intend to swallow those pills down with a shot
Because this bottle is all that I’ve got
I could fool myself that it’s true but it’s not

But hot blood is pumping through my veins
Roaring like a hundred railroad trains
And the pounding my head it pains

And drains what little sanity I had left
As from reality I am bereft
And from my reason I am cleft

And I’m deft in the art of putting on faces
And filling in those missing spaces
Where I’m supposed to be in places

Left empty because I have become Frankenstein
There’s a hole in my head where the sun won’t shine
Where all dark thoughts creep in and define


"Vic Chesnutt is in Florida" - Zach Mitcham

"Vic Chesnutt is in Florida" - Zach Mitcham


I'm driving where I don't want to go,

and it's like you know,

the rain hiss off my wheels must

be covered up, so I turn you up,

which I must do, surely from time to time,

and think of you on the interstate

to Florida, where you hit those nails on the head.

The sparse piano fills every corner of your new high ceiling,

and your guitar is a painted face toweled clean

at the sink. I am a wretched voice with you,

chilled but loud in my soul,

which is just a car, and a fog                               

needing my sleeve to see the lines.

All I want is to turn around. The place I'm going

doesn't want me either. I'm off key with you, holding on

to your real aching line, respect to the man

who goes to where he wants to be, even if, even if.
photo of Vic Chesnutt by Óscar Garcia.
Tomorrow January 6 is Word of Mouth's annual music + poetry evening. Open mic readers who would like musical accompaniment [acoustic instruments, five-minute limit requested] should arrive at The Globe early to discuss arrangements. Open mic poetry is always welcome. Sign up begins approximately 7 pm.  

"Victory" - Ralph La Charity


"Victory" - Ralph La Charity

Mine eyes flake with unexploded impact
Mine eyes infiltrate jellied tanktowns
power walking well-heeled graft
along sweat-banded loopy beachheads

Mine eyes belly up to the guile larder
guild guilt & fool around

Mine eyes climb hand over hand
collateral pig’s foot caked
camel spit in the pentagon pool

Mine eyes elope with pack rats
reckless shuttlecocks are mine eyes

Mine eyes field strip jackets whisker-coned
ambulatory undeloused starvation buffer
bubs of trench flag bridges downed

Mine eyes have seen shroudy captives file
down choked dune-tides that bind

Mine eyes align beloved warps click-beetled
below bellowing hypno-stipulative pushovers
registrating duality-crest bledfellows

Mine eyes are incandescent lusty fleas
procreant witnesses swallowed by the sword

Mine eyes crosshair whole quilts of plague ghetto
ethers inhaled stuttering grease clams
global intake cringe-roots, boot-lamped

Mine eyes muster the tar pits’ babble
& the smoke of twilight’s fast breathing

Mine eyes hourglass nay-knowing cloverleafs
new-mown chopped quicksaw sanddust mounds
of crater-sculpt horizon ramps, offed

Mine eyes cook dawn’s early light
they savor lies seasoned & enshrined

Mine eyes lock headlong baggy & bodiless
consensus-swept support nodes
giddy on dire World Cop Love

Mine eyes whorl whorish ado & anon

Ralph La Charity is a polyrhythmic adventurer and an intellectual provocateur. He has been a regular performer at Athens Word since 2009 and has been public as a poet since 1970. "Victory" was published online at Semanticon in 2003.  His book Farewellia a la Aralee was published in 2014.