"University of Georgia Dorm - 1967" - Rupert Fike



We wanted to be brave, prove ourselves,
     yet we studied deep into each night
to keep out of the war that was our
     one big chance to prove we were brave, 
the chance Phil from Cordele got after
     failing Chemistry, losing his deferment,
Phil who was clumsy, not good at sports.
     We shook our heads at the thought of him -
fuzz-cheeked, helmet too big, search and destroy.
     We looked for faces on the nightly news,
friends pushing their way through chest-high grass.
     Two hundred Phils a week were getting killed.
We dreamed of pulling hurt kids from car wrecks
      to prove we were brave, but there were no wrecks,
there was only the war where cousins flew
      Hueys outside of  Pleiku, and we did not.
"Hiding out in college isn't fair," we said.
      Ramrod uncles said, "All right then, enlist."
 We didn't want to go that far.

Krishna told Arjuna he had to go fight.
     Hector's body was defiled at Troy.
God told Abraham, "Kill me a son,"
     the line Bob Dylan used in a song
we sometimes played in our metal-desk rooms
     where we studied while not being brave.
No one wanted to be the son who might
     not be spared, the son who'd go like Phil did,
 like Trey from Macon did after he gave up
     passing Statistics. We helped him pack,
 told him he might end up in Germany,
     but nobody really believed it.


        (published by Scalawag Magazine, 10/17)

"FIGHT NIGHT AT MILLER'S TAP" - Robert Lee Kendrick




"FIGHT NIGHT AT MILLER'S TAP"  - Robert Lee Kendrick

A man, a woman, & a chair walk out of a bar.
Two of them are drunk. One's about to split.
She digs her nails in. The chair between them like a ref
can't stop the shots below the belt. Slap. Lean. Scratch.
Switch. Asshole. Bitch. Only the chair keeps its feet.
Their hands know where to find tender flesh, where to jab
old sores & freshen the burn. Her right slogs an uppercut,
his right pulls her hair. Thigh to thigh, into the alley & out
of sight. From the roof of our building we shake our heads.
We laugh. We kiss. We'll go our first fifteen soon enough.
We sit on chairs from our kitchen. In a year we'll divide
the pieces. You'll curdle your lip to the compromise. For now,
nothing but smoke between us. I take the hit you blow
in my mouth, taste the burnt stream trickle over my tongue.

"FIGHT NIGHT AT MILLER'S TAP" by Robert Lee Kendrick appeared in his 2016 chapbook Winter Skin. He is the featured reader at August Word of Mouth open mic tomorrow, August 1, at the Globe. Sign-up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings begin at 8 pm upstairs.

from "The Kudzu Chronicles" - Beth Ann Fennelly





from "The Kudzu Chronicles" - Beth Ann Fennelly


13.

When I die here,
for I sense this, I'll die in Mississippi,
state with the sing-songiest name
I remember, at five, learning to spell --
when I die here,
my singular stone will stand alone

among the Falkners and the Faulkners
the Isoms and the Nielsens, those headstones
which fin down hills like schools of fish.
I'll be a letter of a foreign font,
what the typesetter used to call a bastard.

And even when my husband and daughter 
are dragged down beside me,
their shared name
won't seem to claim my own,
not to any horseman passing by.

Listen, kin and stranger,
when I go to the field and lie down,
let my stone be a native stone.
Let the deer come at dusk 
from the woods behind the church

and let them nibble acorns off my grave.
Then let the kudzu blanket me,
for I always loved the heat,
and let its hands rub out my name
for I always loved affection.



"The Kudzu Chronicles" by Beth Ann Fennelly originally appeared in Unmentionables (2008), her third book of poetry. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi. 

"Preparations for Obsolescence" - Michael Walker



"Preparations for Obsolescence"
Michael Walker


At Thermopylae,
When war-weeds wagged
Someone said
That the oars struck salt
And my tongue struck salt
Off from their bones.

Found at the Claudio-Julian gladiator barracks in Pompeii, on a column in the peristyle:


“Celadus, the Thracian gladiator

Is the delight of all the girls.”

He’s got the war-story,


Atgeirmal

Thrusting-spear-story

They say he’s an outside cat.


Upon entering Grendel’s Mother’s home, Beowulf almost immediately discards Unfearth’s sword. When he returns, the hero concedes that the once great sword, is no longer. The old-iron blade, many times hardened in gore-wounds, which failed the lord of the War-Geats, is curiously named “Hrunting,” which translates into English as, ‘Thrusting.”


Found on a wall in a gladiator barracks in Pompeii:

“Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th Legion
Was here.

The women
Did not know
Of his
Presence.
                        
Only six women came to know,
Too few
For
 Such a 
  stallion.”


Leonidas, the Hero-King of Sparta,
leader of the 300 Spartan Hoplites,
900 Helots,
400 Thebans,
and 700 Thespians,
who left his salt and blood at Thermopylae,
and was portrayed by Gerard Butler in 2006,


Was one of the few Spartan Kings to train at the Agoge, and it is thus likely that he was involved in a pederastic relationship as a child, being sexually damaged to an uncertain extent as an    initiation into his immortal heroism.


ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
‘Having Come, Take’


Found on the Basilica wall in Pompeii:

“Let everyone in Love come and see.

I want to break Venus’ ribs
With clubs
And cripple
  The Goddess’ loins.

If she can strike through my
Soft chest
Then why can’t I smash
Her head
With a club?”

We were riding in one of the old-school high-back Humvees. I was driving, hauling ropes and equipment for the HRST master course out to one ranges. The guys waiting at the range would be fast-roping out of helicopters that day. Corporal Spence was my A-driver, and sat in the passenger seat beside the raised platform where the radio would normally mount. I’d only been in the fleet for a few months, and he had been assigned to be my mentor. As I drove, he reached over to offer me his can of Copenhagen, and I could see the pink and shapeless scars on the inside of his left arm. Shining wide beneath his rolled sleeve, someone told me that it was the chemical burn from the Quikclot powder used to stop massive bleeding, but I never asked. We were talking about hazing, and I remember thinking, paradoxically, that the crackdown was a bad thing. I told him that I thought we had it too easy, that we were too distracted.
“You wanna be treated shittier?” He asked.
Dumb silence.
“It all depends on the intended result,” he said. “I remember my roommate got it real bad one time. Our seniors came into our barracks room and beat the shit out him. Eventually, they pulled him into the bathroom and shoved an MRE spoon full of hot sauce up his ass. Like, what the fuck was the point of that?”

“How’s he not gonna be scared of everything now?”

“How’s he supposed to come back from that?”



Found at the Bar of Salvius in Pompeii, over a picture of a woman carrying a pitcher of wine and a drinking goblet:

“Whoever wants
To serve themselves
Can go on and
Drink from the sea.”


Found beside the door of house of Hercules and Nessus in Pompeii:
           
“Learn this:
While I am alive,
You,
Hateful death, are coming.”

  
All that to say
That I
 Am a man.
My throat is swollen
And I am swollen
Like a river.

And like a hero
I’ll lift up my arms
And pull down the sun
Changing the stories
We tell our sons;
But each rising comes
Closer the day
I can no longer speak
Or stand
In my bones and blood-salt.

I lose my veins
Day by day
Till my blood doesn’t work,
Yet I’m swollen
Like a river.

"An Oral History of the Conflicting Desires that Broke Us Apart or You Want/I Want" - Rob White



"An Oral History of the Conflicting Desires that Broke Us Apart
or
You Want/I Want" - Rob White:



I wanted to be goofy with my little brother. You thought I was being stupid.
You wanted to rub our sexual adventures in my exes face. I just wanted to move on.
I wanted to hold you. You didn’t like being touched.
You wanted boys. I just wanted girl.
You wanted a forever boyfriend right then and there. I just wanted to be sure.
You wanted someone it would be okay to twist the truth around. I wanted to be the one worth telling the truth to.
You wanted to be the Queen of Hearts. I was comfortable being the March Hare.
You wanted to destroy yourself. I wanted to blow out the fuse.
You wanted to keep changing your mind about what you wanted. I just wanted to know what the hell was going on.
You wanted to be free. I thought we could be free together.
You wanted the world. And I could only give you Athens.


Rob White is the featured reader at tonight's Word of Mouth, WEDNESDAY JULY 11. Sign-up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm. See you there!

"There's holes in the sky where my eyes used to be" - Rob White




"There's holes in the sky where my eyes used to be" - Rob White


There's holes in the sky where my eyes used to be
This was not what I had expected to see
When I felt the divine whisper deep truth to me
When I thought that truth would soon set the world free
I'd share those sweet whispers and they would agree
Surely no man would turn away from this plea
But soon I would see
As time and heart faded
To dusty debris
That there was one deaf man
And that one man was me

So now I look down
And see scars on my knee
Where I spent so much time
Beneath old sturdy tree
Kneeling and dreaming
Of glory to be
Of woman and man united and free
Of stars once scattered
Brought together to see
That no light shines brighter
Than the brilliance of "we"

I knew all this once
Now it's harder to see
'Cause there's holes in the sky where my eyes used to be


Rob White is the featured reader at this month's Word of Mouth, WEDNESDAY JULY 11. Sign-up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm. See you then!

"From Fire to Fire" - Eugene C. Bianchi




"From Fire to Fire" - Eugene C. Bianchi



Born in earth’s first fire,
I’m primed to celebrate the Fourth
viewing great bursts over the Capitol Mall
honoring the nation’s birth,
the holy city on the hill,
shock and awe here and there,
the blood of Gettysburg, the Marne,
Iwo Jima and Khe Sanh,
Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan
(Thank you for your service,
and pardon our madness.)
My mind drifts from colorful explosions
to daring framers in Philadelphia,
to patriotic barbeque and beer
with Generals Washington and Lafayette
and Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
As I approach my final celebrations,
I’m hurled forward on roman candles
to see the last fireworks of our flaming
earth, scorched by the sun, its finale
coming, dodging black holes with no one
to witness except some mountain crag
and maybe the last lonely roach.
How will it be for civilizations gone
with none to remember, archives
reduced to ash, cyber clouds still roaming
unvisited, theologians, their musings
and their kingdoms long forgotten.
Yet without our Fourth, the Tao by many names
will rush on in its cosmic mystery of not-knowing.
So I take refuge today in the wise ignorance of mystics
who trusted the ineffable without demanding dogmas,
and I confide in the silent spaces between fluttering
prayer flags over the quiet river and in the
purr of my cat, Max, who echoes start and finish.

"Name Of Horses" - Donald Hall





"Name Of Horses" - Donald Hall

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding 
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul 
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer, 
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields, 
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine 
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres, 
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack, 
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn, 
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load 
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns. 
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill 
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave, 
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:


O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost. 



Donald Hall (1928-2018) was Poet Laureate of the United States in 2006. He said in a Paris Review interview: "when I was fourteen I had a conversation at a Boy Scout meeting with a fellow who seemed ancient to me; he was sixteen. I was bragging and told him that I had written a poem during study hall at high school that day. He asked—I can see him standing there—You write poems? and I said, Yes, do you? and he said, in the most solemn voice imaginable, It is my profession. He had just quit high school to devote himself to writing poetry full time! I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. It was like that scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Clyde says, We rob banks. Poetry is like robbing banks. It turned out that my friend knew some eighteen-year-old Yale freshmen, sophisticated about literature, and so at the age of fourteen I hung around Yale students who talked about T. S. Eliot. I saved up my allowance and bought the little blue, cloth-covered collected Eliot for two dollars and fifty cents and I was off. I decided that I would be a poet for the rest of my life and started by working at poems for an hour or two every day after school. I never stopped."

"On Weeds and the Millefiori of an Idle Mind" - Aralee Strange




"On Weeds and the Millefiori of an Idle Mind" - Aralee Strange [December 5 1943-June 15 2013]


If I were pulling weeds I wouldn’t be so antsy now
so full of doubt and need of what I do not know

If I were pulling weeds my fingers would command my eyes
and find each greedy stalk and yank a path to clarity

Dirt is dirt
green is green
this is flower
this is weed

The world would slowly fade away and the broke mosaic of my brain
would come together at the task

This is flower
this is weed
I am them
they are me

I would hum the melody that scores my dreams and find
the words to calm the beast that slinks along beside me

Dirt is dirt
green is green

My thoughts would settle down in green and
lie there cool and damp and clean all day

But when I shirk my job and sit and brood upon the times and
what is yet undone and why we burn our crops and kill our young
all my fractured tableaux come unglued and shatter on the floor

where

dirt is not always dirt sometimes
it’s fake
green is just blue and yellow with maybe
a touch of red
some flowers are deadly
some weeds are flowers
angels are here if you want them to be
Trouble is here all the time
we carry him with us it’s how he gets around
ever since he lost his legs in some dirty little war
gets a free ride when he needs one just like any
other veteran

We are him
he is us
if I prayed give us grace who would I be talking to?

One scary mother doppelganger double talking to me

says
     I know you
says
     If you were pulling weeds you couldn’t hang around with me
     I am a million laughs you know but I am nature-free
     I have no truck with dirt and green they play too rough
     they do not see the difference between them and me
     my rules do not apply
says
     If you don’t mind I’ll catch a ride downtown

That’s where he stays he pays no rent he sleeps around
when he sleeps and hustles drinks and dope and sex
the patron saint of drunks and poets and black blues singers

says
     Put the pedal to the metal I’ve got a powerful thirst

And so of course a bar is first where everybody knows his name
and liquor’s cheap and flows so sweet around each word he says
and pretty soon here comes that glow that worms its way into
your heart and makes you think I’m happy now

     It’s happy hour
he spits
     another round?

So round and round and round we go and when we stop
nobody knows it’s happy hour nobody cares Trouble’s here
his voice a murmur low and warm crawling along the bar

We’re a family reunion we’re comrades in arms
he laughs at our jokes we admire his aplomb
ole roy and his posse singing old campfire songs
beneath a sky of black light blue

     Happy trails to you
     until
     we meet
     again

and the hands on the Rolling Rock clock tick around

Through the looking glass behind the bar
the other us
lost on the far side our lives in reverse
our faces morph a ghoulish frieze
I am them and they are me
(sober thought on a drunken spree)
disembodied bobbleheads blind dumb numb
is this noise home?

The air is sick with smoke and Trouble
one drink away from too many
says

     I loved a woman once
     wrapped myself around her like a kudzu vine
     until I couldn’t get loose
     Gave her begonias and forget-me-nots
     she laughed in my face
     Gave her the key to my heart
     you mean that bag of black ice in your chest?
     She touched my cheek and split

     I see her around every now and then
     she talks about her life
     we share a pot of tea
     I tell her I love her
     she says she loves me
     too

The barkeep pours out one last round and unless I miss my guess
from here on out it’s a hard fast slide down to a bad bad place
A careless word is all it takes who gives a fuck! I do you prick!
a punch is thrown the fight is on and pretty soon here come the cops

So if no one minds I’ll skip this round and pay my tab and vamanos
but

     Whoa! companera
     what can you be thinking
     the night is young and if I’m not wrong
     you’ve got the better part of a twenty left
     I know a place couple of blocks suit us to a T
     for every shot you pay for I get one shot for free
     so what do you say
     amigo?

Nothing down here is free I know that and so does he
and back on the street all I can see is not pulling weeds
is dangerous to my health not to mention my piggy bank
which hit the floor with all my marbles

So I’m counting every step and I'm stepping over cracks
full of poke weed rag weed dandelion and spotted spurge
all the green that works its way through asphalt in a season
and if I don’t watch out I’ll start asking why

why what
what you got?
Trouble on my back

says

     Seems you’re hankering to pull some weeds
     so just drop me off at Thirteenth and Main
     I’m much obliged
     Until again

Stumbling down these streets all the thousand flowers
scattered at my feet would never come together
Yesterday’s done now’s now and tomorrow’s a mystery
the tenacious vegetal pitch of my attention is focused on

Dirt is dirt
Green is green
This is flower
This is weed

I have to get down on my knees to find the picture.