"Sonnet 36" (William Shakespeare) - Franklin Abbott

Franklin Abbott performing "Sonnet 36" by William Shakespeare at 800 East in Atlanta.

He is tonight's featured reader at August Word of Mouth upstairs at The Globe. Readings begin at 8 pm.

"why I burn incense" - Franklin Abbott

"why I burn incense" - Franklin Abbott

the seller of scents
in the Mysore market
assured me:
only the best
sandalwood sawdust
mixed with honey
hand rolled onto
a sliver of bamboo

when I strike
a match
to make an
ember glow
on the tip
the smoke
goes straight
to my nose

inspiration is

a poem, a song
a solution to a puzzle
a prayer
breathed out
soaring over circumstance
now can I doubt
heaven will hear

and then I inhale
only deeper
the seller of scents
his sad eyes
meet mine
only the best
smoke rising
in roundabout rings
into the invisible

sooner or later
the ember is spent
the scent lingers
like hope
after a kiss
Franklin Abbott will be featured reader at Word of Mouth next week, Wednesday August 2 at The Globe. Open mic signup is at 7 pm at the bar and readings begin at 8 pm upstairs.

"Trance Dance Delight" - Joey Connolly

"Trance Dance Delight" - Joseph Connolly
descend below the subatomic
wedge between the quirks and quarks
rise above the cyber subway
hear the deejay’s whoops and barks
swim a swamp of bleeps and tweaks
in the sea of what I’m saying
tune in tympanic tidal waves
surf oceans of commotions swaying
fall into a frenzy of limbs akimbo
in a mosh pit of mellow tones
trip the loud and light fantastic
with high holy day head phones
spin and scratch the spinal vinyl
tick tick rip rip drip drip drop drop
sample a whole medley of soul
echo hip hip beep beep bop bop
rip the skin off the sound of rim shots
reshape rhumba into razor edge rags
beat the bass riffs to boogie band width
break to dance when tempo drags
psychedelic sounds some geriatric
mesmerizing moves magic in the night
Mad Hatter’s dancing an acid hat trick
streaming for a total trance dance delight
interstellar overdrive
transmitted through the night
on cruise control overload
all for your trance dance delight
Art: Flipper, by Fred Tomaselli [Leaves, photo collage, acrylic and resin on wood panel, 2008]


I dreamed of painted dogs in Beechwood canyon
and God’s voice saying you may live in a land
of no regrets
and you will never grow old
but first you must solve the riddle of the Sphinx
the answers have been changed   
I will make you invisible with the past at your fingertips

and a language all your own
I will pin your secret name to a single tear

and turn your legs to a mermaid’s tail
You will be the beauty in a beholders eye

but your mirror will be empty
I dreamed I swam through submerged cities and drowned carnivals
And God’s voice saying you may live in a land of heroes

but the battle will never begin
I will give you dreamless nights and perfect days

but the sun will be blinding
All the maps will be washed clean

and the sidewalks will be quicksand  
Nazis will march through your mouth
I will give your own anthem with all the words in the world   
I will attach string to your arms and teach you how to weave
All the threads will be white

and the pattern will tell your life’s story
I dreamed I was held captive outside the door to my house
And God’s voice saying you may lose all of your fear

and monsters will drink from your hands
but you will always have thirst
I will sew you a suit of sand and you will be the hourglass
Your days will be ram’s horns

and you will kiss the lips of your ancestors
Your wedding bouquet will bloom again
I dreamed of funerals in theaters and God’s voice saying
You will dance away your shoes and find lost treasure

but you will live in poverty
I will make your skin ice and give you a tower

but your body will be numb
Your name will be inscribed in the book of perfection

but water will blur the words
you will stand on tiptoe next to walls and be fearless
children will spring from your fingertips
I dreamed of steps covered in sand and God’s voice saying

I will give you the language of animals and the eyes of an owl
the universe will sing in numbers
and you will bathe in rivers of salt    
candles will grow from the sand your breath will be music

but you will have no voice
your mornings will turn to glass

your lovers will turn to drums
your eyes will turn to paper
you will kiss your enemy’s mouth    


"street music" - Robert Lee Kendrick


"street music" - Robert Lee Kendrick

summer stars left our names
off the marquee moon
as renuka’s congas & matt the cat’s bass
opened the locks for a river of groove
fat tino’s trumpet
skipped ricochet cuts
& leapt to the sky
as ‘toine’s tenor sax hugged
the muddy bank’s funk
pulling the brass back to earth
I threw swamp flowers down
comping chords on my guitar’s rosewood neck
& john firefly rapped from the sidewalk
calling all down to our river
baptizing with baraka & MOVE
& mad dog 20 20 was his meat
the town of normal gave us wide berth
so we played for june heat & streetlights
let the water rise over our heads
small sidewalk trees did their slow juke
& we swung with the shadows of leaves on our skin

"street music" by Robert Lee Kendrick originally appeared in his 2016 chapbook Winter Skin published by The Main Street Rag. Kendrick is the featured reader at tonight's Athens Word of Mouth.

"The Birds of America" - James Broughton

"The Birds of America" - James Broughton

Said the Birds of America
   quak quek quark quark, hoo hoo
   rarrp rarrp, gogogogock
   feebee, cheep cheep, kakakaaa
   coo ahh, choo eee, coo coo!

And what is the meaning of that?
said the solemn Birdcage Maker.

O nothing at all, said the Old Turkey,
we just enjoy the noise.

Why not do something that makes some sense?
said the serious Birdcage Man.

  We do, we do, all there is to do,
said the Eagle, the Lark, and the others:
  We eat and sleep and move about
  and watch what's going on.
  We mate and nest and sit and hatch
  and watch the young get on.
  We hunt and preen and sing and wash,
  we take long journeys and local jaunts
  or simply sit about and scratch
  and watch what's going on.

But that's quite pointless! said the Birdcage Man,
You'll never get anywhere that way.

Maybe, said the Magpie. Yet when this continent began
we birds were the only two-legged creatures
and we're still very much around.

What's more, the Woodpecker added,
everything man knows he learned from us birds
but he's never enjoyed it as much.

The Cagemaker scoffed: What could I learn from you?

  To do, to do, all there is to do,
said the Heron, the Crow, and the others:
  To eat and sleep and move about
  and watch what's going on.
  To mate and nest and sit and hatch
  and watch the young get on.
  To hunt and preen and sing and wash,
  to take long journeys and local jaunts
  or simply sit about and scratch
  and watch what's going on.

O that's absurd! said the Birdcage Maker,
Don't you know the real meaning of life?

Of course we do, said the Birds of America:
   quak quek quark quark, hoo hoo
   rarrp rarrp, gogogogock
   feebee, cheep cheep, kakakaaa
   coo ahh, choo eee, coo coo!

“Who Said It Was Simple" - Audre Lorde


"Who Said It Was Simple"  - Audre Lorde    

There are so many roots to the tree of anger   
that sometimes the branches shatter   
before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march   
discussing the problematic girls   
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes   
a waiting brother to serve them first   
and the ladies neither notice nor reject   
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   
But I who am bound by my mirror   
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex

and sit here wondering   
which me will survive   
all these liberations.
Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) said that "Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference -- those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older -- know that survival is not an academic skill."

The first night of the riots at the Stonewall Inn took place in New York City on June 28, 1969. In David Carter’s book Stonewall (2004), he quotes witness Michael Fader: “We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around — it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.”

One of those who didn't go away was Marsha P. Johnson, a transwoman. Robert Heide remembers in the Stonewall book the role Marsha played the first night of the riots: “just saw her in the middle of the whole thing, screaming and yelling and throwing rocks and almost like Molly Pitcher in the Revolution or something."

"Shadow Ball" - Robert Lee Kendrick


"Shadow Ball" - Robert Lee Kendrick

We chucked a Louisville Slugger over the fence,
barrel & handle turning end over end
to cut the sunlight in uneven lops
before it tumbled to ground.
Four feet of chain link hopped. Cooler
& boom box handed over, Olde English 800
& black leather angels on homemade cassettes.
Late evening haze hung over
the outfield & pitcher’s mound
shimmered with heat crawling dirt.
We could sneak an hour
before sunset. Over at the plate
& four in the field, heads still spinning
from basement Black Sabbath,
we played with our lengthening shadows.
No helmets. No umpire. Malt liquor
tilted Lincoln High field to our slant,
a can per man to put more bite
on cutters & curves, to blur hops
& liners & hang oracle pop ups
close to the moon, red stitched Sputniks
leaving town for longer than we could.
Three years gone from black pinstripes
& Ls on our caps. Racetrak & Kroger shirts
all day, pizza delivery Highway Stars
at night. Twilight baseball between.
Two strikes down, we’d call long shots
& swing from the heels & foul them straight
back. No keeping score, no way to win,
nothing to lose but a few stolen balls,
just hang in & hack while you can.
When buzzed luck met muscle memory,
northern ash launched white leather
high through the darkening deep blue
& rose, a long hyperbola into the trees.

Robert Lee Kendrick is the featured reader at next month's Word of Mouth, July 5 at The Globe. He lives in Clemson with his wife and their dogs. "Shadow Ball" was posted April 2017 at A Writer's Window.

"Tasks" - Robert Lee Kendrick


"Tasks" - Robert Lee Kendrick

End day sun 
seeps through primer gray 
clouds, gives 
the last of its warmth 
to the rain 
swollen creek, as a hook 
necked buzzard 
picks flesh from a possum
behind my truck. 
One thing has to die 
for another 
to eat, I say to the leaves.  

Some man's 
shirtless son takes aim 
at a headless 
torso he's hung from a tree, 
makes music 
with knives, going straight 
to the heart.  

Driving home to my wife, 
I'll spread  
tailpipe smoke on young trees. Two years  
since she miscarried.
Some chromosome rot in one of us, or both, 
& no luck.  

A small wake drives water 
apart. A beaver
gathers mouthfuls of branches & mud, 
his daily work
of patching the dam.

Robert Lee Kendrick will be featured reader at next month's Word of Mouth open mic on Wednesday, July 5. In a June 2016 interview he said of his writing that "place does it for me. The roads, creeks, and lakes of Pickens County, South Carolina, and the fields and towns of central Illinois where I grew up. I see so much road kill that I get a lot from decay and rot, as well — that’s been a big thing for about six months. Natural decay is a miracle, the biological process that nature uses to heal and renew itself. There’s no unfinished business, and I don’t know that humans can do that with loss, even with rituals, therapy, art, whatever."

"Ode to Aralee" - Bob Ambrose



On the passing of Aralee Strange, founder and host 
of the Athens Word of Mouth open poetry community,
June 15, 2013 at her home, "Timberdance"


        In some place primeval
the priestess holds court 
where rhythms take form 

your spirit’s reborn  
as sirens sing in sotto voce, 
the Sibyl raves a praise to Gaia, 

long-mute furies chant 
in tongues, and fiery nuns
rap truth to knaves. None

can name the kind of faith 
that rocked your soul 
in the bosom of Timberdance,
but a warm spring bathed 
your late years, submerging self 
to nurture words in perfect strangers. 

It’s just the broken way 
of things that what we love 
will leave too soon. 

Authentic poets never die, 
they just transcend. Their words 
become their epitaph 

their thoughts a meme, 
their spirits, muse. Unburdened 
of body returned to the source

to the place beyond words 
where they go to be born,  
your essence awaits: 

A brief note, held sweet 
                against silence 
echoes forever 
        the memory of grace.
Bob Ambrose will be reading from his collection Journey to Embarkation on Friday, June 23, at Avid Bookshop [Prince Avenue location]. The joint reading with Gene Bianchi, another Word of Mouth poet, starts at 6:30. Bob's website is Reflections in Poetry.

"One More Gift" - Mark Pentecost

[Aralee Strange Dec 5 1943 - June 15 2013]

"One More Gift" - Mark Pentecost

Suddenly, the strange world is less strange,
quieter, stranger. The wheel is turned,
the finger pricked, the spell will not break.
Shhh. Listen up to what is missing:
The sound of doors locking in the dark
or unlocking. Words placed like long-stemmed
flowers in the barrels of silence.
A mouth. A voice. Beautiful. Bruised.
Friend. I did not know you long or well.
My arc was altered by our meeting.
I forced my feet into these odd shoes
and, limping, dance, clumsy and comfy.
Your cheek kissed by some goddess of storm,
you showed us, brood of anonymous
geniuses, to follow our footsteps.

Above the Ohio far away
sun and cloud are making a movie.
Backs to us, a woman leads a mule
toward the river, in step, through the
hush of mist over the bottomland.
My tongue tries to keep up, slithering,
a blind baby snake with no purchase
on the damp grass they tread so surely,
then stumped by the dross they have sloughed off:
Fabric, leather, a plow, a pump, books
and bandages and empty bottles,
a feedbag, all passing into earth
like a long outbreath of the Buddha.
On the other shore, lights and music.
“Aralee, old friend,” the boatman says,
“The mule rides free. From you a penny.”
Her jagged, full-force laugh. No problem.
From the skinny pockets of her coat
her practiced hands bring forth a lifetime:
A bib. A doll. A slingshot. Apples.
Dog treats. Cigarettes. Keys. A Zippo.
Colored pencils. Makeup. Photographs. . . .
The boatman’s eyes are big as the moon.
The river and the mule pulse gently.
The patient ferry rocks and drowses.
The woman’s laughing and the treasure
from her pockets look to have no end.
He thinks, she can’t go on. She goes on.
Brittle brown letters. A flashdrive fat
as a bullfrog. Laden vines of film
stock. Drawings. Sketches. Glitter. Stardust.
And, covered in script like fingerprints,
paper, papers, folded or in scraps,
an avalanche of words, shy children,
wadded ones unwadding in her hands.
She pauses, mother hawk sizing up
the fitness of a chick. “Not this one.
This one’s for Mark.” Thanks for one more gift,
generous Aralee, this poem,
written in the lightning from your face.

Mark Pentecost, 64, died January 16, 2017 in Athens, GA, surrounded by his family. The cause of death was ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. During two years of illness he demonstrated amazing courage, graciousness, and generosity of spirit for caregivers, family and friends.




The bright moon made the night into an eerie day

moving shadows showed

the children played

vague animal noises echoed.

People’s memories memorialized passed on only as feelings long forgotten

Grandmother’s walk in the park barley recalled

The cats, so proud no longer walked the wall.

Swirls from dances longed for

Thoughts on random nights flowing slow.

The moon so very bright now sits in shadow

Fogging up its eerie day

En– vel- oping  rec- ol- lec- tions of the olden days

Mind’s ideas vivid,

Swirling thoughts now moving forward,


"Gym Zen" - Eugene C. Bianchi


"Gym Zen" - Eugene C. Bianchi

Rather than complain, I try to focus
on feeling in and out breath in my nostrils,
since X-ray plus diabetes fatigue won’t quit,
I turn it into a Zen-lite med,
walk slow as an old turtle
around the indoor track at UGA,
just floating from site to sight,
hoping my monkeys of judgment
will stay in the trees.

Down below four courts of basket-ballers
flash in an out of vision,
one girl among them,
Asians grouped alone,
the shouts and big-ego dribblers,
(oops, a monkey loose.)

Cut off from command and control,
I circle like a tired drone
taking snap shots of repeated moves
to score for the hell of it, a kind of
muscular Zen from emptied minds.

Just now, just here with quick takes
of female shapes – short, wide, tall,
tied hair bouncing behind, some
even gorgeous by runway standards,
an overweight gray-hair chugs by
with desperate wheezing (away, monkey, away),
while young men run on behind iPhones
with the best looks they can muster for
this circulating harem, hardly noticing—
pure perfection —two amazing hunks,
biceps bulging from wife-beater tee shirts,
racing like the wind.

As mnemonics I count the laps in Italian
to the mile marker, sit on a bench, here, now
with the circus swirling, I contemplate
a round of tai chi in the dance studio with
kind dancers who make room for an
ancient Zen-ner, just here, just now,
with monkeys quiet.
"Gym Zen" appears in Gene Bianchi's third book of poems, The Hum of It All. He is the featured reader at Wednesday's Word of Mouth event, June 7, at The Globe. Sign up for the open mic is at the bar beginning at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm.

Bob Dylan, born May 24 1941


Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

video: Dylan, 1964



Bow down before me
I will become one with your soul
One with the people
I will humble myself
Live off the Earth
Dance in the moon light
and feed the children.
I will humble myself to become one with you
To be loud and unique amongst my fellow humans
To be one with one and
everyone around me till I disappear into sameness into every other fellow citizen.

I will humble MYSELF
Bowing down to MY people
Becoming one with THE souls
Becoming one with THE people
I will humble myself
Dirtying my hands to feed myself
Tightening my muscles to sweat and toil to feed fellow citizens
I will humble myself-
Days gone
Towering over
To truly see
The only reward-
End of the day as
Work Fulfilled
Bone Tired.