"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
Is a real possibility
when you find her,
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,
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.
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
in a cave.
"Relationship With a Spider" was originally published online at Town Creek Poetry.
without you, wear talismans you won’t need
"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]
"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
"Advice to a Prophet" - Richard Wilbur
An excerpt from Evil is Always Human by Eddie Whitlock. He is October's featured reader at Word of Mouth open mic at The Globe. Sign-up for open mic Wednesday, October 4 is at 7 pm at the bar and readings start at 8 pm upstairs.
I am standing
under the cast iron Arch
that serves as a gateway...
to the oldest public university
in a land
where freedom was once revered
(Sorry UNC, but UGA was the first university created by a state charter).
I look into their fearless faces
and listen carefully
as speaker after speaker
his or her unique experience
and expresses her or his
The almighty Board of Regents
of the great state of Georgia
has, in its sage wisdom,
decreed that these youngsters
cannot attend any
of our state universities.
They are "illegal," "undocumented,"
brought to this country
And then the chant changes to:
"Education! Not segregation!
Education! Not segregation!"
And I close my eyes and wonder:
Was I standing in this same spot
just a few short years ago
listening to another
group of youngsters
chanting exactly the same words?
Seems like yesterday.
It's déjà vu all over again.
"Heart Scars" - Bob Ambrose
The surgeon said I have a raw heart,
that where he worked his high-tech
wire would heal and bear no scars.
But all he had were images,
renderings of my left atrium
processed by silicon circuits,
color coded for conductivity,
rogue circuits splotched red
across my pulmonary veins.
They fairly danced with life,
made my heart skip stutter-
step beats. That was before.
Now the big veins stand inert,
gun-metal gray, dull as lead
pipes, bare limbs of an ancient
oak shattered by a blue bolt,
frozen and fossilized — this
the price for too much life.
I walk through new life
with a hole in my heart.
I bear invisible tattoos.
Can a body hit sixty-eight
without a rough mark
clawed across the vitals?
Could a soul survive so long
in the land of incarnation
without the grace of scars?
Technology is miracle. Hospitals
crawl with angels. Doctors patch
bodies for a few more rounds.
But raw hearts ride currents
no machine can measure. Sinking,
I am buoyed by a thousand ‘thoughts
and prayers.’ Flailing, I am borne
again to source or abyss. Surely
I will drown in a sea of grace.
"Heart Scars" by Bob Ambrose originally appeared online at his blog Reflections in Poetry.
"Giving Way" - Dennis Bagwell
Hush little girl
Don't say a word
Let's just sit here a few moments longer
With your soft little hand in mine
I wish I could keep time's dreaded grasp from dragging you off into the swift current of adulthood
But wishing is a useless past time
I can already see it in your eyes
I can hear it in your words
Your body is slowly giving way to the woman you will someday become
It's simply a matter of dreaded time when moments like these will become fewer and farther between
But today you're still a little girl
So let's just sit here a few moments longer
With your soft little hand in mine
"Alone" - Cassandra Sam
Alone became my norm and as one tends to grow feelings
for that which is familiar
I formed a frightening infatuation with sharing
only the company of myself
It is to be noted that this was not healthy or fulfilling
quite the opposite in fact
see this was detrimental to my health and if happiness
could be measured in wealth
I was left with empty pockets and featherlight wallets
but these were all my own
and for that I was grateful
for I knew the pain in companionship
I was aware that to place more coins in my pockets would mean to inevitably face more heavy a downfall, and too often
have I forgotten to brace myself
for the moments where I must pay for my own loose change
so changes in me took place which have left me so pennilessly,
and purposefully alone
is he who seeks solace in sentence scribbled less than legibly
on the back of his own eyelids
or she who speaks in false past tense, pretending to be stronger than her poetry
The time is 12:37 AM
I am laying in my bed trying to decipher the feelings I have not been having as of recently
typically when something is bothering me I try to assign it a story, space, and color but this shade of black
so selfishly sticks it's in all settings and plots
which come to mind
sucking until it grows drunk on dread and dreariness
it greedily fills then spills out of its designated resting space
testing space and time between where I am now
and there which I have been before,
some would refer to this as rock bottom
I just call it, "Wednesday"
I ask myself why I am like this.
"Late" - Joseph Wallace
Rain makes the days seem satirical
It was the night that you wanted to keep
the royal moth we found when the exterminator
let himself in for his monthly routine
“who’s in charge here”
neither of us, maybe the bug
that insect is a king to us
but I guess that doesn’t matter much
I was unsettled and unsure
of whether it was because of
his sudden appearance or lonely odor
that slipped out of his equipment.
“Just finish closing up
turn off all the lights, I’m nocturnal
Pretend as if I’m not here”
Tried to oblige. but he joked on
“I’m Chris the cockroach,
I come out at night and kill all my friends
call me the Terminator”
Had to mention it sounded Kafka-esque
although it went over his head
he said goodnight and by the morning
this whole place will be rid of unwanted visitors
I hoped that included exterminators.
My walk home couldn’t shake the lonely odor
Rain makes the pain satirical
I imagined his instruments of death
sprayed out seconds and minutes and days
and that the liquid contained
little pieces of his soul, although I know it was just
chemicals to kill bugs.
their hands, ask with patience what cares
colloquy made them weep openly.
through recollection. I was a technician.
I moved on to the wicked. I was led
stood at cracked doors, fingering beads
My pyrotechnics were practical, flares
rending, espousing. The hell was hot,
In middle age I turned to the blind eye.
There was never enough money to burn.
time to feel the word, to see demons
the hands, lay on the scalpel, no one
There is no guide for the impossible.
it respectable, noble, even regal,
Gregg Murray is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia State University and the founding editor of Muse /A Journal. He is the featured reader at Word of Mouth open mic, Wednesday, September 6,
8:00 pm at The Globe, Athens. "[ When I Was a Faith Healer" ] appeared online in diode poetry journal. He will be reading at the Decatur Book Festival on Sunday, September 3 at 3 pm on the Java Monkey stage.