"Dinner drink" - Zach Mitcham


Summer sounds rise and fall

as if roots from the cool dirt

lift a symphony stick to guide

the exoskeleton rubbings,

religious tinnitus of sure bugs

beneath the green tops, an orange streak

like a teen's bleached hair,

not far from the lasting bark with names

of kids sixty years past puberty, graffiti

of a rural boy who carved his letters

plus another in a heart. The wind heaves

its chests of leaves, and my insides burn

with welcome cell death, like a prayer

to the second-person no one in every damn whisper,

my two eyes on time's off-beat, only opened
with the medicine of slippage, that fine hum of poisons,

and a new crease to my face, like a forest path to haunts

of hard laughs at lost jokes in rooms for smokes.

Now tires sound the gravel, beneath child faces

in the car window. Time to wash the apple

of its poison, and cut grapes in half for the safe swallow.

I prepare their meal, buzzed, remembering Charlie,

the barbecue cook who told me not to be bashful

about leering at pretty girls through the server window.

He grabbed my shoulder and told me to stare, boy.

Later, he put out his smoke              

with his fingers, tamed the fire

by callous, then wiped off ashes

and smiled, you gotta’ build to that,

son, but you best take it slow.

"Said Handedly" - Ralph La Charity

Caught by Matt DeGennaro's overhead wide-angle cam and sound-matched by him to the recording off the house sound system, this particular clip documents a presentation at The Globe in Athens, Georgia on the 1st Wednesday in April 2013, at Aralee Strange's Word of Mouth feature/open poetry series.  The co-feature that night was Ben Gulyas of Cleveland, Ohio, and there were over two dozen open reader/poets.

"The Workman's Friend" - Flann O'Brien [Brian O'Nolan]


"The Workman's Friend" - Flann O'Brien [Brian O'Nolan]

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -
A pint of plain is your only man.

When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt -
A pint of plain is your only man.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,
A pint of plain is your only man.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare -
A pint of plain is your only man.

In time of trouble and lousey strife,
You have still got a darlint plan
You still can turn to a brighter life -
A pint of plain is your only man.


"revisions" - Douglas Ahimsa Merchant

from the cedars wet with salt-wind,
you see a scene of famine
when you were young, you believed in sunflowers
now the sea lions down by the docks
are trying like hell to mount you
the fire is damp, like a streetlight
and your memories boil in your head

on the strand, there’s a dead dog barking,  
the umbilical cord of some sailor,
the dark driftwood of a life
but all you see is Coney Island,
spinning in the sand like a chainsaw
as the fog comes over you again

the rectangular light beats through the blinds
like a barcode,
splashed across glistening hills
you can’t help but look
there’s a woman with nothing in her eyes,
a flimsy excuse for a hard-on
like an elephant in sight of the Alps,
a black cat stands frozen in the door

on the filthy walls, a farce of a trial
as if to every bullshit there is a season
a time to gather excuses
there’s a ceiling to everything, you might have said
instead you painted that swan,
gasping on the floor
like a reptile in a broken land
all you left, in the end,
was the chalklines

doodling in your notebook,
you couldn’t taste your own ideology
the one your father beat into your mother
the one that drove your grandma to hang herself
the one you’d wrestled all the decades of your life
I said I’d fight on the beaches
amongst the rotted plums of regret,
between the lions of sedimentary fate,
under the falling arrows of doubt
I said I’d rattle this nation like a snake
I said I believed in you like some people believe in America
you said you had dark thoughts

you took to pounding hand drums in the morning,
your fingers flat and seizing
when the future choked on our dreams,
you refused to watch them die
you didn’t want a funeral
you wanted an abortion

but you can’t move into the past like that,
like it was a grapevine

when you broke the lightbulb in your fist,
the samurai came in droves,
riding persuasive headlights of fear
glinting with blood, and profit,
and motions for summary judgement
they asked for more hallucinations
so through the electrified fence of your bright teeth,
you said  what they said  you had to say

I stood like a cypress, waist-deep in the wind
while the banshees danced like flies
banging gavels of oblivion
on the cauldron of your uprooted mind
that’s why I cracked

the force that drives us apart splits our rafters,
stops our hearts
pulls the hairs from our heads
turns us white with memory
scatters the stars into exile

the force that turns information into noise
drives the root through the sewer pipe
turns crystals to dust
turns neurons to worms
that’s what I was fighting
not you
as the sun flees to the vagrant west,
birds sing from their bath in my tequila
it’s that time of day
I sit with memories of seashells and jails
tulips, equivocations,
buffalo shit and rainbows
a geyser of Monterey seagulls
a photograph of myself pissing into the Great Salt Lake
and your aging skin on a Mexican beach

 as I drink it all boils away
all that’s left is that swan,
struck dead in desert fog
on the road that winds up to the orphanage

"Bellos Sentimientos" / "Beautiful Feelings" - Patricia Tacuri

"Bellos Sentimientos"
Me tienes llena de bellos sentimientos
Con tus tiernas caricias y la maravilla
Que son tus besos
Me devolviste la fe
Por ser aquel hombre
Que sabe cómo tratar a una mujer
Contigo deseo amanecer
Me tienes siempre pensando en ti
Y en la esperanza de tenerte de nuevo junto a mi
Me haces volar
Y otra vez soñar
Me haces sentir
Y mi sangre hervir
Me vuelves loca
Con tu bella forma de amar
Y a ti, siempre me quiero atar.
"Beautiful Feelings"
You fill me up with beautiful feelings
With your tender caresses and the wonder
That are your kisses
You have returned my faith
By being that man
That knows how to treat a woman
With you, I desire to wake up
I’m always thinking about you
And the hope of having you next to me
You make me fly
And once again dream
You make me feel
And make my blood boil
With your beautiful way of loving
And to you, I always want to be tied

"A letter to Lemuel Penn" - Zach Mitcham

"A letter to Lemuel Penn" - Zach Mitcham
[In July 1964 Athens area Ku Klux Klan members shot and killed Lemuel Penn, an African American veteran of World War II and officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, who was returning home to Washington, D.C. after reserve training at Fort Benning. Penn's murder captured
headlines nationwide, dramatizing the need for civil rights reform and ultimately prompting a reappraisal of Klan activity throughout the South. More at New Georgia Encyclopedia link]

Your daughter wrote me back, Mr. Penn,

said your son rode his red tricycle that day,

hollering to the world: "My Dad's been shot!"

He shouted truth. The car that followed you

out of Athens delivered the syringe and needle

of an old darkness, then turned around for more,

the red eyes of tail lights like a predator head

on a swivel. Charles felt your warmth stick to him.

He grabbed the wheel, hit a ditch, but lived.
The trial quickly followed. Loud trucks rounded

the courthouse in the center of town. Lemonade

was sold by kids on the lawn. And a segregated

room heard what three men did to you. The defense

lawyer said the driver had been pushed by the Feds,

had a mid-shaped head. The jury convicted the Feds.

And when your murder turned 40, the legislator

explained the bridge already had a name, couldn't be

in your honor, Lieutenant Colonel. So I called your last

living killer, and his wife answered, told me he wouldn't talk.

I stood in the balcony of the abandoned courtroom,

snapped shots of the juror box and a lone chair

with broken legs. Then I wrote your daughter,

who mailed memories, the quiet crowd in the home,

the opera singer neighbor and physician somber

at the door, the nighttime trip to the airport

to greet your flag-draped coffin. And when your 4-year-old

namesake throated your fate as he peddled,

your oldest girl went to get him, to quiet him,

and lead him by the hand through the front door,

the entrance of flash and bang, forever gone, and never forgotten.

"Vandal" - Sam Lane


"Vandal" - Sam Lane

Holy Shit! How much money did I just sneeze
on? Monet’s Water Lilies caught by surprise
at close range. Dabs of color changed. Please
don’t tend the congealed lily, crystalized

left by an artless patron. But perhaps
It’s an improvement! A point of balance!
Yes! Slowly stepping away from the frame,
the new addition gives a living vein
to what once was still water. Now a toad
has splashed in! My impression has been made
and to pluck the new lily from under
a bridge is a bad omen! It brings thunder

to a peaceful scene. It’s best not to start
now or ever. Please don’t touch the art.
This poem by Sam Lane was inspired by a recent event that occurred on a visit to The National Gallery in London.