"Athens, you never cease to amaze me!" - Charley Seagraves

"Athens, you never cease to amaze me!" - Charley Seagraves

Athens, you never cease to amaze me!  What a piece of work you are!  Small, progressive island adrift in a sea of intolerance.  College town, townie town, Normaltown, downtown, Athenstown.  City of bars and beer and more bars and more beer, and people of every ethnicity and creed and hue.  Caring people and bright people and sharing people and tattooed people and unglued people and shiny, happy people holding hands and sad, unhappy people slumped on sidewalks holding crumpled cardboard signs, asking all who pass for quarters and nickels and dimes, and undocumented people who want nothing more than the opportunity to study and learn at your great university.

Athens, where academics and athletes walk side-by-side down downtown streets.  City of dreamers and beauty queens and poets and artists and chefs and waiters and waitresses and teachers and preachers and so many more, and, lo and behold, musicians galore.

Athens, foodie town, from 5&10 to the Varsity Drive-In, to those born-again biscuits at Mama's Boy, and Donderos' fried potatoes and fried green tomatoes, and the chocolate torte at the Last Resort, and Allen's hamburger steak smothered in onions, long gone but forever etched in my craw and in my memory, as is Poss' Barbeque.

Athens, music town of great renown, from the  40 Watt to Hendershot's to Little Kings to the Foundry to the miracle of the Georgia Theatre.  To Terry "Mad Dog" Melton to the Jesters and the Normaltown Flyers, to the B-52s and Stipe and the boys and Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power and the Drive-By Truckers and so many more.

Athens, so full of memories, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, happy and sad.  You are indeed a classic.

Athens, you drive me crazy!

Athens, you never cease to amaze me!

© 2016 Charley Seagraves

[photo of Charley Seagraves by David Noah, September 2015]

"He was dancing alone one day" - David Oates

"He was dancing alone one day" - David Oates
He was dancing alone one day, not particularly gracefully, but with pleasure, forgetting himself, letting his body be moved by the music, or so it felt, rather than by his own commands. The music had a catchy beat, the bass line was compelling, and the lead guitar was soaring above it, and in his head patterns of light played, as with his body, following the commands of the music. He was taken over by the music, and his back no longer hurt, he didn't feel the pain in his feet.
One moment he was taken by the music, the next he was the music, no longer attached to that body down below, dancing to him. He felt wonderfully alive, euphoric, perhaps a bit manic, and he flowed from the room with two black chairs and one white table into the street. Instead of being drowned out by the street noises, he found that the city's music was part of him as well, the grumble and whoosh of cars and buses, the sound of thousands of feet striking the pavement, the cooing of a pigeon in a nest on a girder under the El tracks.
When he travelled to the edge of the city, he found that the wind made different noises here, and that insect buzz and bird calls were part of him here, though he was still in the city as well, expanding, becoming the music, the sound of the entire world, across oceans and continents, and as high in the air as sound could transmit, even starting journeys like thoughts transmitted where music in radio waves radiated from the ball of dirt resounding with him.
When they broke down the door, they found a body lying beside two chairs, black, and one table, white. They weren't sure if the look on its face was from the effect of death's dancing in the muscles of the face, or if, for some reason, this splay-limbed man had died with a smile.

"bromeliads for ears" - Carly Landa

"bromeliads for ears" - Carly Landa

the gossip of grassland. it rolls over
it folds you. there is nothing left. you
touched me once. it left no mark
except that suddenly all my bones were broken

and still are. the person i believed i was
has never been. the person i believed
i was has never been.the person
i believed i was has never been.

and so i am waiting
for sweetness,  for stillness. the meditative quiet
of waiting rooms. the occasional

birdsong. a dream – like swimming with real dolphins.
our animalhearts venting
like ventilators. i was so old but now
i’m older

and where am i who am i this time.
a simple man? a blanket? probably
a dog. a harvest moon. a soundwave –

an owl’s call, the cast net
of a fruitbat. pollinate me. consecrate
me. who am i this time

who hoo who


"Justice is a word we use every day" - Aaliyah Nowell


Justice is a word we use everyday, why do we kill and steal that's

the question that gets thrown away
You can’t even walk out your front door, that's why we seek justice the right way
With the risk of losing your life to senseless acts of violence.
This world we live in ain’t no walk in the park, so why so much silence
Better lock up the loose strings and commit something that’s worth something
You're either the slave or the boss which one do you claim?
They call us the great country, who do you serve the king or the queen
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but where is the life and liberty,
When Bob is being robbed and he can’t get a job
Where is the Life and Liberty when Jessica can’t even play with her toys without being shot
So I say again they call us the great country but what’s really great?
People dying everyday from senseless acts of violence from all different race.
Why do we kill and steal that’s the question that gets thrown away
“The dead cannot cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so”
What are we going to do? Oh you know Continue to watch each other self destruct or are we going to come together to make life better
I know it’s hard, but we have to try , we can’t succeed if we don’t believe we can fly
Instead of coming together when Bob kills Rick or Jimmy kills Justin
Instead of coming together when Bob kills Bob or have we learned our lesson
Instead of coming together for Black lives matter
The real question is do Black lives matter or do all lives matter?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” can you hear the chatter
I’ll ask you again are you the boss or the slave which one do you claim?
Stand up and be recognized by your name

Aaliyah Nowell's poem has been selected for the Discover Life Poetry prize to a Clarke County high school student. The $250 prize will be given Wednesday evening at the Nature and Poetry event at the Richard B. Russell Special Collections auditorium and presented by John Pickering, retiring professor of the Odum School of Ecology.
The free event featuring four poets reading on the theme of poetry and nature begins at 7 pm, and there will be a reception following. The evening is co-sponsored by Athens Word of Mouth and Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History.

“Beech Leaves in Winter” - Clela Reed


“Beech Leaves in Winter” - Clela Reed

Most of what I know of God
is in the pale leaves of the beech tree,
the way they hold on all winter,
golden in sunlight against drab trunks
and empty branches,
warm clouds layered
through the gray-cold of the forest.

Marcescense, the botanists call it:
An absence of barrier skin
where leaf joins limb.
Without it, release rips open wounds,
so the leaves hold tight
against the winds and rain,
let the snow clump and then melt away,

I know intent belies the science,
but what accounts for beauty?
And what in their flickering light lifts in me
both courage and inexplicable sadness?


Clela Reed will be reading at the Poetry and Nature event on September 14 at the Special Collections Library, UGA campus. She will be joined by Philip Lee Williams, Robert Ambrose, Jr., and John Pickering. The free event begins at 7 pm, with a reception following. The evening is sponsored by Athens Word of Mouth and Friends of the Georgia Natural History Museum.

Clela Reed is the author of four collections of poetry. Her full-length books are "Dancing on the Rim" (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2009) and "The Hero of the Revolution Serves Us Tea" (Negative Capability Press, 2014); chapbooks are "Bloodline" (Evening Street Press, 2009) and "Of Root and Sky" (Pudding House Publications, 2010). She has had poems published in The Cortland Review, The Atlanta Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Caesura Literary Magazine, The Literati Review, Storysouth Journal, Clapboard House Literary Journal, and several others. "The Hero of the Revolution Serves Us Tea" is a collection of poems and photographs based on her Peace Corps service in Romania, during which Clela wrote weekly in a blog: www.clelainromania.blogspot.com.

"Feminine Ending" - Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor


"Feminine Ending" - Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

[In prosody, a line of verse having an unstressed
and usually extrametrical syllable at its end.]
I think of Debra Winger carried off
the factory floor, muscle and brawn of desire,
workmates in catty backrooms, their hair
netted, one tsk-tsk's another, scoffs
at overbaked cookies, the treachery
of a mother painting her son's toenails pink.
Then think of the Spanish for hand, la mano, link
between macha article and fist, the very
grasp of it, bedrail moan, dramatic heart
monitors, anguish of what promises to end:
beast that burdens bladder, exhale knife
thrust and burn or barter your blood, start
the push! Again and again until the end
that never ends: mid and her suffix, wife.

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor is tonight's featured reader at Athens Word of Mouth. Her new book of poetry, Imperfect Tense, will be available at the Globe. [$15].

"Looney Tunes" - Gregory de Rocher

"Looney Tunes" - Gregory de Rocher


Every morning

         I start the day

                  the same way


Preparing breakfast

         for my spouse of fifty years

                  when from an even deeper past


Up comes gurgling

         from depths unfathomable

                  an ear worm from the Fifties


Whole songs I’d thought forgotten

         undecompose and play!

                  Melody and lyrics


I could never remember

         if I were pressed

                  now come uninvited


And replay and replay and replay

         over and over and over

                  like a mad merry-go-round


Those tunes that had accompanied

         the fantasies and the deeds

                  of my now unforgotten yesterdays.