"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


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,



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
Only six women came to know,
Too few
 Such a 

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.

‘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,
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
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.