"Rather Let the Weight Bearing Down on You Be Channeled into Strength" - Steve Maurer


"Rather Let the Weight Bearing Down on You
Be Channeled into Strength" - Steve Maurer

Rather let the weight bearing down on you
Be channeled into strength,
As the clouds close your eyesight.
Be not one to denigrate the quiet
When the mornings are behind you.

Rather let the weight bearing down on you
Be channeled into strength,
As the cold numbs your fingers.
Be not one to criticize the evening
When you've had the Autumns golden.

Rather let the weight bearing down on you
Be channeled into strength,
As the night names you comrade.
Be not fearful of the storms stalking close
When others see just the morning.

Rather let the weight bearing down on you
Be channeled into strength,
As your sleep brings no slumber.
Be not demanding on our keeper
When the chanting comes to free you.

Rather let the weight bearing down on you
Be channeled into strength,
When the chanting comes to greet you
And the sleep brings no slumber.

Steve Maurer was the featured reader in March 2013.

"Untitled" - Shafkat Khan


"Untitled" - Shafkat Khan

At dusk,
I ran after my shadow
and sometimes, playfully, it ran after me.

Last evening, my voice sang to my ears.
Last night, my dreams bade me good night.
When I cried, solitude gathered me close
and whispered:
"I'll be your muse tonight."

"Einstein's Worry" - Grady Thrasher

"Einstein's Worry" - Grady Thrasher

Einstein worried, and so do I,
about humanity's belief
in pie in the sky,
with a God that rules the Universe
while keeping score on each of us,
to determine by precise calculation
one's undying soul's destination --
whether a carefree paradise
for those who are adjudged as nice,
or a forever fire and brimstone hell
for those whose scores don't add up well.
What Einstein proved we all should trust.
We are merely composed of cosmic dust.
Created from chaos and evolution,
people are products of Earth's pollution.
With neither eternal life nor immortal soul,
Earthly grace should be our goal.
So seize each day and be the most.
Make love and joy your holy ghost.
Celebrate the Life that chance has given.
Don't be superstition driven.
Be kind and honest, befriend the lonely.
Heaven's door says "Exit Only."

"Everyone is Bones" - David Noah

"Everyone Is Bones" - David Noah

The panic bird is stuck in his chest!
Crack the ribs, yells the surgeon over the ping ping
of the pressure machine.
Crack the ribs stat stat stat.

Here it comes, wings unfolding like demonic origami, beak wailing,
and the creature clambers from its cage,
spattering blood on the linoleum floor,
while sweat beads on the nurses foreheads.
Get back, screams the surgeon.
Get back, screams the bird.
I’m contagious, they shriek.

Ping ping ping.
Hemostat, bandages, blood pressure, bone splint,
abductors, forceps, I need suction, he cried.
And the shrieking mad bird
slams against the green walls
while the pressure machine, driven insane, crashes to the floor.
Stat, yells the surgeon.
Stat, yells the bird.
A nurse says ‘scalpel?’ in a quiet voice lost in the busy air
but the bird grows bigger, wingspan big as your head, big as a bed.
An intercom blares static static
meaning:  love is incomprehensible.
The surgeon flips the x-ray switch
so everyone is bones,
and the skeleton bird howls
as it smacks into the stuttering fluorescent lights.

Bang goes the great nervous body against the door
The surgeon faints and the nurse staggers,
but the patient twitches a finger, and feebly rising from the table,
calls bird bird.

He drags himself across the room trailing tubes like guts
until the bird finds his chest and dives back in,
tunneling into his heart,
folding his wings like a leather skin.
The ribs click into place like teeth.

The patient opens his beak to say,
really quite calmly, it’s ok, I’m ok now,
as he steps on the surgeon
and with a familiar, satisfied caw
leaves the room to wing his deep way home. 
Home, says the man. 
Home, says the bird.



"Bottom Land on a Watery Planet" - Patrick McPhee

"Bottom Land on a Watery Planet" - Patrick McPhee
Maples keep promise, rouge blushes
a forest of winter-slapped trees.
Swollen top twigs, a slightest
green wash haze brushes to reach
blue sky that warms in near star light.
River mist wraps leafless boughs reflect
shimmer on magic rippled water, white flashes
scatter silver in endless shattered mirrors
cupped in the hands of a bright sun rise. 
Copyright © by Patrick C. McPhee
All rights reserved by the author

"Starman" - Elsa Russo

"Starman" - Elsa Russo

I woke in the middle of night
Because I thought I heard a cry

                           Don’t worry
                           It was just a star exploding in the sky

I saw a snowy white owl on a traffic cam
And called out your name
You knew didn’t you?

                           Don’t fret
                           It’s just a gathering of the soul
I saw a jeweled skull
Held up in effigy

I said, this will be the last we see of him

And you knew didn’t you?

                           Don’t make a fuss
                           It was our last debt that had to be paid

I whispered prayers over the dying

In rhyme and harmony

Never knowing that I was

                           Don’t grieve for me
                           I had the best time anyone ever could

I woke in the middle of the night
Because I thought I heard a hole punched through the sky

                           Don’t worry
                           It was just a Starman returning home

"the love poem" - Carly Landa

"the love poem" - Carly Landa
you are a celebration of gesturing and silences.
once; i tried to falcon the clouds
     but they were water so I spun a life of eating dirt
 and tunneled deep
then, like an orphan gone official
            i went to live with you a while
and so found the kind of dream which replaces a nightmare –
nothing could make me sorry   
a poet once said that: darkness
     will touch everything at once. and I thought
can it touch us? i thought i just want to be closer i thought can we
create our own darkness and in so doing touch all things at once:
the blood that is the street
the water that we used to paint the atmosphere
the open map that is the sky
but the poet must be wrong. darkness
is not that kind a thing.
so in my poem i’ll be accurate, and honest and list the things we want:
1.  we want the earth to remember us
2.  we want our pets to love us
3.  we want people like ourselves - not to be friends with us necessarily but to want to be friends with us
4.  we learn to want the things that people tell us we can actually get 
like the foxes who say why have we not been eating babies this whole time i mean they just sit there while you eat them
which are the ridiculous things we think of when we cry in the dark of our closets which we will do sometimes
until the room becomes a forest around us ivy on our cheeks and our ex boyfriends rubbing our backs
and it defies their nature i think but their hands are smooth and even, heavy and silent so we fidget
mouthful of moons and teeming with secrets and
one day when this closet becomes a real forest
i will laugh like an actual flower
singing & budding & wilting
see i thought once that a woman needed secrets
that she lived in a world made
of secrets and silence
like: a blood stained rag under
the bed frame a root system
or the bedded floor of an ocean
you see -- my father gave everything
and all he got were girls
we taught him the secret ways of women
and he answered us 
with silence. and I grew up to understand that
i would never know the ways of men
they are the world above an ocean
the space that they inhabit is a like a sky -- but now
I am a celebration of vibration
now no one can make me sorry
now I am learning how to falcon
every skybound feathered thing
I am made wild with every kind of noise
and he answered with a silence
and so I countered with a verse
"the love poem" was read at Word of Mouth on February 3. The poet started a "60 poems in 30 days challenge” on February first. You can find it at problemanimal.wordpress.com

"The Bear Hunt" - Abraham Lincoln

"The Bear Hunt" - Abraham Lincoln
A wild-bear chace, didst never see?
  Then hast thou lived in vain.
Thy richest bump of glorious glee,
  Lies desert in thy brain.

When first my father settled here,
  'Twas then the frontier line:
The panther's scream, filled night with fear
  And bears preyed on the swine.

But wo for Bruin's short lived fun,
  When rose the squealing cry;
Now man and horse, with dog and gun,
  For vengeance, at him fly.

A sound of danger strikes his ear;
  He gives the breeze a snuff;
Away he bounds, with little fear,
  And seeks the tangled rough.

On press his foes, and reach the ground,
  Where's left his half munched meal;
The dogs, in circles, scent around,
  And find his fresh made trail.

With instant cry, away they dash,
  And men as fast pursue;
O'er logs they leap, through water splash,
  And shout the brisk halloo.

Now to elude the eager pack,
  Bear shuns the open ground;
Th[r]ough matted vines, he shapes his track
  And runs it, round and round.

The tall fleet cur, with deep-mouthed voice,
  Now speeds him, as the wind;
While half-grown pup, and short-legged fice,
  Are yelping far behind.

And fresh recruits are dropping in
  To join the merry corps:
With yelp and yell,--a mingled din--
  The woods are in a roar.

And round, and round the chace now goes,
  The world's alive with fun;
Nick Carter's horse, his rider throws,
  And more, Hill drops his gun.

Now sorely pressed, bear glances back,
  And lolls his tired tongue;
When as, to force him from his track,
  An ambush on him sprung.

Across the glade he sweeps for flight,
  And fully is in view.
The dogs, new-fired, by the sight,
  Their cry, and speed, renew.

The foremost ones, now reach his rear,
  He turns, they dash away;
And circling now, the wrathful bear,
  They have him full at bay.

At top of speed, the horse-men come,
  All screaming in a row,
"Whoop! Take him Tiger. Seize him Drum."
  Bang,--bang--the rifles go.

And furious now, the dogs he tears,
  And crushes in his ire,
Wheels right and left, and upward rears,
  With eyes of burning fire.

But leaden death is at his heart,
  Vain all the strength he plies.
And, spouting blood from every part,
  He reels, and sinks, and dies.

And now a dinsome clamor rose,
  'Bout who should have his skin;
Who first draws blood, each hunter knows,
  This prize must always win.

But who did this, and how to trace
  What's true from what's a lie,
Like lawyers, in a murder case
  They stoutly argufy.

Aforesaid fice, of blustering mood,
  Behind, and quite forgot,
Just now emerging from the wood,
  Arrives upon the spot.

With grinning teeth, and up-turned hair--
  Brim full of spunk and wrath,
He growls, and seizes on dead bear,
  And shakes for life and death.

And swells as if his skin would tear,
  And growls and shakes again;
And swears, as plain as dog can swear,
  That he has won the skin.

Conceited whelp! we laugh at thee--
  Nor mind, that now a few
Of pompous, two-legged dogs there be,
  Conceited quite as you.
From The Atlantic, 1925: Writing from Springfield, Illinois, on September 6, 1846, to his former Springfield neighbor, Andrew Johnston, then living in Richmond, Lincoln refers to a promise once made Johnston to ‘bore’ him with another ‘little canto of what I called poetry.’ ...     In the letter sent to Johnston enclosing the verse, Lincoln says: ‘If I should ever send another (poem), the subject will be a “Bear Hunt.”’ Some time later Lincoln wrote "The Bear Hunt" and sent it to his friend.

"Snow Jobs" - Eugene C. Bianchi


Athens GA, Sunday March 1, 2009

"Snow Jobs" - Eugene C. Bianchi

Sleet is serious in the South,
defying Mason Dixon, falling
like tiny shards of glass, tapping
ever so softly on windows at dawn
like an unexpected great aunt come
to discuss your grandfather's genes.
She's sorry to bother you as you pour coffee
but since you're shut in and all that ...
We are forever covering up, she says,
to whitewash the vulnerable, the insecure,
to stand bright on pedestals famous for
praise or blame, no matter, since all
publicity is good if it doesn't stain
the snow, too long or too deep.
Did Hamlet ask to be or seem to be,
a query shaking mighty kingdoms, thinking it
better to leave poor Yorick's skull unearthed?
Yet try as we may, we can't stem the thaw,
the melting of age that limns our faces
with bitter regret or a gentle awareness
that the journey is the destination,
the longing its own reward,
our weakness a path to the real.

Eugene C. Bianchi
Athens, GA Feb. 13, 2014

"Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" - Charley Seagraves

"Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" - Charley Seagraves

Parked my truck near the Globe,
The Christmas lights were blinking,
I was two quarters short for the meter,
But I went inside and started drinking

And forgot to feed my meter
Until it was much too late,
A ticket awaited on my windshield,
I got caught tempting fate.

A sawbuck it cost me,
Ten bones, a ten spot, a dime,
Now that drink I was gonna buy you
Will have to wait for another time.

For when you park in Athenstown,
There's always a price to pay,
You gotta feed that insatiable meter
Every night and every day.

The meter maid who burned me,
I know her very well,
She seldom smiles as she stalks the streets,
A stoic mademoiselle.

A chalk stick in one hand,
A scowl across her face,
She often appears out of nowhere,
As if she came from cyberspace.

She does not care for excuses,
So avoid that slippery slope,
I have no doubt whatsoever
She would ticket even the Pope.

When I spot her coming down Clayton,
I run to feed my meter,
I do not know her name,
But to me she looks like a Rita.

© 2016 Charley Seagraves