“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.