"In Betweenness" - Pierre Joris


"In Betweenness"
(Pierre Joris)

is it a good thing to find
two empty pages between the day 
before yesterday & yesterday 
when trying to make room
for the blue opera afternoon 
of today a sunday like any sunday
in may?
            there is no one could tell 
or judge though my own
obsession with the in between 
should dictate the answer
& thus let me rejoice at being able 
to insert today between the
day before yesterday & yesterday 
as if it were the yeast of night 
allowed these spaces to open
(do not say holes to grow)
in the spongy tissue of this
my papery time-space discon- 
            leaven of earth leaven of writing 
of running writing to earth
in these in betweenesses that now 
please as much as the opera in ear 
that asks que dieu vous le rende dans
l’autre monde but the desire is to stay right 
here in this world this in between even as 
the sound changes the radio sings son
vada o resti intanto non partirai
di qua
            exactly my feeling sheltered on these 
pages now filled and pushing up against 


"Christmas is Baking" - Bob Ambrose

"Christmas is Baking" - Bob Ambrose

I drift awake in a strange chair 
alone in an unfamiliar room 
bathed in late-day light. 

My running pundit mutters, confused 
as phantom insights flash and fade 
from the realm of unrecovered dreams.

Silhouettes of small birds 
streak by the high window 
that frames a tiny swath of sky. 

As scattered moments slowly cohere, 
I sense again the vague regret –
another slice of life gone by. 

But fire warms the gray stone hearth 
and glad voices drift from the kitchen 
in busy rhythms of conversation. 

The day regroups. 
The season peaks. 
The sun resumes its cycle. 

Through stale corridors, 
sharp currents of cinnamon and savory
carry hints of transcendence come – Christmas is baking. 

"Ode to Google or Thanks for the Memory" - Grady Thrasher

"Ode to Google or Thanks for the Memory"

Thanks for the memory--
As my own brain starts to fade,
Yours comes quickly to my aid,
Your engine searches far and near
To give me answers quick and clear—
I thank you so much!

Yes, thanks for the memory—
My research time is frugal,
For I now depend on Google,
No money’s spent on books,
No time in library nooks—
You keep me in touch!

Ahh, thanks for the memory—
With Google on my side
I now face the world with pride,
A rapid Google session
Will remove my blank expression—
I need you so much!

But wait! That’s my own memory—
That you take and store away
To divulge another day
To the FBI or any guy
Who’s from the CIA—
And I’ve told you so much!

Erase all my memory!
I beg you and implore,
It’s not for others to explore.
I was beguiled, but now I’m riled
My memory is in your files—
I hate you so much!

But I need a memory!
I should go back to those books,
But Google you have me hooked,
You know my name,
You hold my brain
In your own Doomsday Book—
And… I thank you so much!

"Come Back" - Elsa Russo

"Come Back" - Elsa Russo


I can finally hear her voice on the wind

On the backs of a crow she calls to me

Come back, come back, come back to me

Come back to the place that you still call home

In your most secret thoughts

Come back to the place where you were born

Come back, come back to me


My first mistress calls me

From the backs of a mockingbird

Come back, come back, come back to me

You know you’ve been missing the smell of the city

Something replicated nowhere else

The smell of salt water, heat, cigarettes

Booze and sex and secrets long held tight

You miss it, you know you miss it

Just come back to me


My unattainable Madonna

Calls to me from the backs of a hawk

Come back, come back, come back to me

To the place where voodoo and Catholicism

Live in harmony, side by side

You visit the priestess on Saturday

Then go to confession on Sunday

You pray at the altar of the music of our souls

Dance away from the graveyard to the beats of drum and brass

Just come back, come back to me


My beautiful and broken vision of my first love

Calls to me from the backs of a pelican

Far too out of his native land to be an accident

Come back! she screams, Come back to me!

My long-lost child, my prodigal daughter

Why do you resist the fire in your blood?

Why do you worry and fret and delay?

Do you not love me anymore?

Do I no longer cause your mind to dream and your heart to sing?

Why this resistance?  Why do you protest?

Come back, my child come back to me


My first lover

She calls to me from the backs of a water moccasin

Stealthily climbing up my leg

Come back, she whispers, come back to me

I infected you long ago

And I am the only antidote for the poison that kills you

I can feel it when you shiver and shake in the night

Dying for the medicine that only I have

So why do you resist so?

Why do you waste away in torment?

Just come back, come back to me


I lift the snake from my leg to my shoulder

Let it’s bayou cooled skin ease my fevered flesh

I can’t come back, I whisper softly, I don’t know what I’ll find there


Haven’t you heard? she whispers patiently

Haven’t you heard what the others have said?

They have been here and while things always change

There are things that are always the same

I am still yours, I still feed and tend to many

I am still the one you fell in love with, why do you fear me so?


Because it sounds like sweet lies, I reply

Like the lies my mother told me

Everything will be fine, everything is fine, right before they die


People die, things change, and things will not always be alright

But that is no reason to hide and keep from returning to me

I am always here, and I will always be this

I will always be the one who first caught your heart

And caused the blood in your veins to rise

So tell me and try to explain, why do you fear me so?


I walked into a room and saw a woman I knew

And she no longer had the ability to recognize me

I fear walking back to you so much, the two times I have been close,

I have not dared to walk out of the bus station doors

I fear the day I walk onto your streets

And you will not be the same, you will not feel the same,

You will not look at me the same way and you will not be the mistress I fell in love with

You will not be my New Orleans

You will be something else, and I cannot abide that again


The crow caws, the mockingbird sings, the hawk swoops, the pelican screams and the water moccasin bites

Come back, come back, come back, come back,

They all chant as the poison rushes into my veins again

Come back to your mistress, come back to your one true love

Come back to the Mississippi, come back to Louisiana, come back to New Orleans

Come back to the only place you have ever really called home

Let me heal your soul and draw the poison from your blood

Let me cradle you in soft music and soothe you with lullabies of the river

Come back, come back, come back to me


I slip into fevered dreams of night and river and sea

I feel the thick arms of a Louisiana mother wrap around me

I smell the richness in the air

I taste the food cooking on the stove

I hear the band playing outside

And I know

One can only resist the call of one’s first love

For so long

And soon, very soon

I will be going back to her

I will go back to New Orleans

Nick Barrows returns to Word of Mouth with Mark Flanigan


Cincinnati poet Nick Barrows in a reading at Word of Mouth, recorded January 2017. He'll return with fellow poet Mark Flanigan to celebrate the eighth year of monthly open mic readings at The Globe, Wednesday December 6. Sign up at 7 pm for open mic, and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm.

"SMALL CHANGE" - Mark Flanigan

"SMALL CHANGE" - Mark Flanigan

I walk across the room,
Put on an early Tom Waits album.

It’s late afternoon,

There are a million things I should be doing.
A few I shouldn’t.

We have today.
Unbelievable just how rich we are right now.

MARK FLANIGAN and NICK BARROWS of Cincinnati will help celebrate Athens Word of Mouth's eighth year of open mic readings this Wednesday at The Globe. Sign up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8.

"Relationship With a Spider" - Alx Johns

"Relationship With a Spider" - Alx Johns

Is a real possibility
when you find her,
in wintertime
minding three eggs in a cold basement,

She founded her web in part
on a book you need,
but to move it would mean
wrecking her reason to be:

those little spheres
suspended like tiny planets,
earth-colored fruits
on translucent limbs.

Breathe out, and she stirs.
The string-thrum music through her
feet then abdomen.  A Romanian

saint spent sixteen years
in solitary confinement
with a single roach
to confide in, and he loved her who
kept him alive and sane.

They conversed,
and he gave her a name.

Were enough days permitted to pass,
The Lord would have had
to allow a taste from that Tree.

You won't disturb spider further.
gets to stay.  The way
Love grows
in a cave.

"Relationship With a Spider" was originally published online at Town Creek Poetry.

"Donning Your Jewelry" Gail Tyson

"Donning Your Jewelry" - Gail Tyson


Clasping the fused-glass links around my neck:

we’re together again on that infinite

coast where Japanese floats wash up, sea-green,

cranberry, amber baubles, beach-strewn

shards of light like these, sunbeams once dappling

your collarbone.


Looping black-chased silver butterflies

around my wrist: they’re confused by my scent,

losing their way on their great migration.

Our rambles to the Canyon, Chiricahua,

Tubac always circled back to your cottage,

emptied now.


Piercing my ears, a matched pair: turquoise bears,

your totem. Nothing else goes together,

nothing quite fits together as I bear

our friendship, weightless now, in this world

without you, wear talismans you won’t need

any more.



"Eulogy" - Jason Allen


"Eulogy" - Jason Allen

This autumn morning,
acorns  ping off the pavement like hail,
cars and semi-trucks slog along
the highway outside my door;
I lose myself in the zipper sound
of tires cutting sheets of rain,
my memory split wide,

and I backslide to that night-walk
across a highway bridge in colder rain
than these drops falling now, in that
west coast city, leather jacket slick,
my body a magnet for streaks from
the streetlights, bag heavy on my back,
bag filled with novels for my English class;
cold and wet and trudging against
the hangdog expression my old friend wore
just after the hug, just after I brought
a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude
for him to read in rehab, his first time
through those revolving doors

and I’m slipping down the well,
no coins left for wishing, plunged into
one of those winter mornings we spent high
beside the ocean, when the sky bled Easter egg dye,
another morning after we hadn’t slept,

when teenaged and bleary-eyed we watched
the gulls battle over stale crusts of bread,
autumn wind like a cold callused hand, slapping,
slapping, all those billions of gallons crashing,
pulling us under, all that whirling blinding sand,
all those solemn promises to escape that town,
before it was too late, to make something
of our lives.

Jason Allen is one of two featured readers at the next Word open mic on Wednesday, November 1. He will be joined by Andrea Jurjević. "Eulogy" appeared online at Jane's Boy Press. [Photo by Andrea Jurjević]

"Buffalo Moon" - Andrea Jurjević

"Buffalo Moon" - Andrea Jurjević
That spring Tuesday after you packed, left your couch on the sidewalk, fog entered
​ the pulpy, pencil-shaved underbelly, the stained slender frame.
If I had drunk myself to death that night, I would’ve liked you to carry me to your river,
 lay our non-rescuable bodies
spread-eagle on its bank, tell me of the future: two people in an abject town, asleep,
the daybreak mimicking their spent bodies, white steam rising
 from lichen-covered roofs.
Instead I dream stranded ships, how I drown caught in a mousetrap, how we wear
paper crowns and they burn — your brows, chin and lips raw phosphorous.
  Your eyes little black pits.
And I see you like that in the mornings sitting silently in the car beside which I park.
  As I walk the streets, you pass by me. When I eat you study my mouth,
when I sleep you tap my shins, wrists, wishbone hips, and I can’t help say, Give me
  your hand, touch, see how warm I’m down below.
Andrea Jurjević. a native of Croatia, is one of two featured readers at the next Word open mic on Wednesday, November 1. She will be joined by Jason Allen. "Buffalo Moon" appeared online at Foundry.

"A brief book of spells [October]" - Owlglass


"A brief book of spells [October]" - Owlglass

Watch Benjamin Christiansen's 1922 film

   Haxan, or Witchcraft Through the Ages

walk through morning grass threaded with cold dew

listen to an album of fifteenth-century lullabies,

   the soft voice drifting from another room

read Cities of the Red Night by William Burroughs

admire the spider's orb hanging from the porch roof

feel against your skin the worn wool of a favorite sweater

.  .  .
Another sort of spell:
notice the twin bumper-stickers in the grocery store parking lot




"Advice to a Prophet" - Richard Wilbur


"Advice to a Prophet" - Richard Wilbur

When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,   
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,   
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,   
Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.   
How should we dream of this place without us?—
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,   
A stone look on the stone’s face?

Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive   
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,   
How the view alters. We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip   
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without   
The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?   
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean   
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose   
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding   
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing   
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.
  Richard Wilbur died on October 14 at the age of 96. In 1987 he was appointed the second Poet Laureate of the United States. “I feel that the universe is full of glorious energy,” he explained in a 1977 interview with Peter Stitt in the Paris Review, “that the energy tends to take pattern and shape, and that the ultimate character of things is comely and good. I am perfectly aware that I say this in the teeth of all sorts of contrary evidence, and that I must be basing it partly on temperament and partly on faith, but that’s my attitude.”