"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.