“I ain’t never been no superhero” – Larry Sheats



“I ain’t never been no superhero” – Larry Sheats


The pressure that dem Marvel Avengers feel must be something else
I mean to have the whole world looking at you and asking for help
See I don’t even have all that on my shoulders
Just a few boulders and they heavy enough
I used to think that I was tough
But life laughed and showed my ass
What being tough really means
It means paying the bills when you ain’t got no green
Sacrificing your dreams for the sake of the team
And at times it may seem that you being stuck with a knife
But I’m being totally honest with myself, that’s just life
Sometimes that’s just the way it goes, the way the wind blows
But you know, I ain’t never been no superhero
So when the stress gets the best of me
And I explode for all eyes to see
Understand that’s just how I feel, cause I ain’t no man of steel
And those bullets that be flying are real
So I stand still, cause I can’t move as fast as the Flash
And behind this mask, ain’t no billionaire play boy
Just a lonesome soldier who’s getting older and little bit colder
From watching the days of his life pass him by
Asking God for the strength to give it just one more try
And maybe today we won’t die from being broken
By harsh words that have been spoken from unkind lips
Ego trips have been known to sink ships
So not a sound do I make, even though I’m at the point I could break
Like a wooden stake to a vampire
My empire goes up in dust and I ask God is this a must
Cause in Him I do still trust, so my eyes I do close and let go
But remember that I told you
I ain’t never been no superhero

"A MAGAZINE WHERE EVERYONE IS FAMOUS" - Paul Cunningham


"A MAGAZINE WHERE EVERYONE IS FAMOUS" -  Paul Cunningham

a magazine and what it sells
a magazine is what it sells
a magazine holds 10 rounds or 15 if it is a standard magazine
a magazine holds 30 rounds if AR-15
if AR-15 a magazine speeds 800 rounds a minute
if AR-15 a magazine can hold 60 or 80 or 100 rounds
a magazine is breaking news—goes round and round—repeats the next day
a magazine a substitute for butcher’s paper
a magazine a photo a mother reliving the moment for the rest of her life
reliving the moment for the rest of her life
for the rest of her life
a magazine a skin rag an exit wound
a magazine a pornography not limited to unclothed bodies
unshielded bodies

a magazine is aiming for a new pornography it’s shooting for a language of violence it’s sticking to your guns if you’re trigger happy if you’re a real pistol you’ll stick to your guns if you’re ready to bite the bullet if you’re ready to jump the gun if you’re ready to shoot straight if you’re ready to go ballistic if you’re a real son of a gun

no son of mine’s gun shy no son of mine’s a shot in the dark no son of mine could do that in the middle of the dark no son of mine could do something like that in the darkness in the middle of the day no son of mine could go off like that no son of mine’s a son of mines no

a magazine a clip a clip from a magazine one clipped quote clipped from the headlines one quote reads the magazine rounds out just like this

“I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home,” says Ronald Reagan

a magazine another tragedy
and another and another and
a magazine another campus shooting’s front cover
a magazine where everyone waits for the explanation
a magazine where everyone waits for the motive
a magazine where everyone is buying what’s selling
a magazine details the caliber of a magazine
details the caliber of our president’s performance
details the caliber of the performance
a m-m-magazine is too many syllables
a m-m-magazine is too many
teenagers, sons, daughters, children
a magazine where everyone is famous

"In the South" - Clifford Brooks




"In the South" - Clifford Brooks


Cicadas
offer no history, only
a permanent revolution of seasons --
a melody,
a natural catastrophe.


Our loose thoughts combined after I told you
about the blond vagabond playing Vivaldi downtown
with only his toes touching the ground,
the soothing sounds those strings
spread were his roots among us
that challenged reality, in it
he was the only soul entangled.

His violin was spotless, though he was not --
he was a stalagmite, vapor, the remnants of awful parents,
vacant eyes, gaping mouth.

Unkempt, he was another time-wasted thing, disintegrating
from an inability to remain tangible, shadows crowding 'round,
same as you see on the road home through Yazoo, Waco, and Monroe,
impassable because your headlights always shined
behind … nevertheless - a surreal sight on Hancock, that man

like the dark wood of a dining table, primer still smelling
of orange blossoms wiped up in dusty plumes, letters propped up
against a vase beneath the bowing heads of crested irises,
nearby is grandfather's photo in black-and-white,
expensive parchment for better letters is unused.

Today, for me, a lady is a fading reflection as I look out
from a sturdy frame; the air is filled with cynicism.
For years I collected specters in a blue Bible,
and tonight i give them all to Vivaldi’s madman.
Those motels, the lying sleep, this time to mend:
They are forgotten secrets between us and lunacy.
They are no longer yours.
They are no longer mine.



Cicadas
play to help remember, keeping
time the way a metronome does:
Not to pass the hour,
but hone its rhythm.
They are blades that slice away
what I don’t want.




Clifford Brooks (www.cliffbrooks.com) was born in Athens, Georgia His second full-length poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published in 2017. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, was re-issued in August 2018. Evergreens, his second chapbook, will be released by Lucid House Publishing in 2019. Clifford is the founder of The Southern Collective Experience (www.southerncollectiveexperience.com), a cooperative of writers, musicians and visual artists, which publishes the journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review and hosts the NPR show Dante’s Old South. He is on the faculty of The Company of Writers, and provides tutorials on poetry through the Noetic teaching application. 


"Saturday Chaconne" - Clifford Brooks




"Saturday Chaconne" - Clifford Brooks

Damon and Pythias
shake off Syracuse,
and brush their shoulders clean.
In downtown Athens
short skirts scoot us up one street,
then left on College Avenue.
Brothers head into a hookah bar.

Jackson’s secondhand bookshop
contains collections
by Rilke, Neruda, and Simic
whose woo factor
hit their limit.
Now they’re here
with scribbled epitaphs
that whisper: The heart doesn’t
always win.

Nor is family loyal to their tortured son.
So, I decide to inscribe my insanity
in a tattoo venue.
Now, the motto of my family’s melancholy
is carved into muscle over time.
The blood spilt in that chair
is theirs as much as mine.
Finem Respice
is forever
on my left arm.

On Four Fat Tires, we careen
into the old decor of New Orleans.
This eatery has been renamed,
but it’s still the same.
Dad sits inside, smiling:
My old man
is always smiling.

We watch the waning sun
set across Broad Street
over the Arches
that urge us to understand
that the ache of youth passes,
age has a slanted perspective,
and nothing is wasted with good company.

As evening winks in,
dogwood lets petals drift.


Clifford Brooks (www.cliffbrooks.com) was born in Athens, Georgia His second full-length poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published in 2017. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, was re-issued in August 2018. Evergreens, his second chapbook, will be released by Lucid House Publishing in 2019. Clifford is the founder of The Southern Collective Experience (www.southerncollectiveexperience.com), a cooperative of writers, musicians and visual artists, which publishes the journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review and hosts the NPR show Dante’s Old South. He is on the faculty of The Company of Writers, and provides tutorials on poetry through the Noetic teaching application.  


"Crow Prayer" - Michelle Castleberry

"Crow Prayer" - Michelle Castleberry

Oh, Lordy!
Because you already know our hearts, 
Lord, we only pray so the others hear. 
Because you do not render this as blasphemy, 
we can say we believe less in You than magic. 
We believe less in magic than in the found corn chip, 
the stolen rivet, or button. For these are all testimonies of You. Take this as You will.
We have creation hung in our jaws and cough
our thanks from high nests for each perfect unlivable law.
We keep track of the breakage, 
for You love a tally.
We sound the alarm for the dumb ones
including those two-leggeds You adore.
We sing our praises from the craw
“Aw, thankee very much; we are much entertained!”
Who is so hardened, Lord, that they cannot hear our song?
Which is 
Awe!Awe!Awe!




"Crow Prayer" by Michelle Castleberry appeared originally in Still: The Journal. She is a writer and social worker in northeast Georgia and has been a featured reader at Athens Word of Mouth. Her work can  also be found in publications such as The Chattahoochee Review and The Atlanta Review. Her first book, Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems. was finalist for Georgia Poetry Book of the Year for 2013. She is a Fellow with The Makery through the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky.

"Winter" - Rob White



"Winter" - Rob White


Like most gifts, I brought you home in a box
You’ve been trying to get back into boxes ever since
My girlfriend said I needed a companion
So together we adopted you
She wanted the fluffy one
But your wide golden eyes spoke to me
A companion you became
Long after girlfriend was gone
A tiny chirping sprite
Unable or unwilling to form a meow for most of your life
You spoke in squirrel noises
A chirp in greeting when I walked in the room
A cry of announcement when you jumped on my lap
A squeak of surprise when I snuck up on you
Except when the door was shut
At which point you became a howling bobcat
Sliding your tiny hand under the door to rattle the obstacle until passage was given
You’ve slept curled up near my neck since the day I brought you home
You purr the loudest when I’m talking or singing to you
I can always count on you to climb on top of every piece of Ikea furniture as I put it together
Your version of helping, I think
We’ve moved together countless times
Two vagabonds still searching for home
Though now I realize that home is where you are
And as you never seem to mind the change of surroundings
I assume that you feel the same
I named you Winter after my least favorite season
But you have become my favorite thing
My best friend
My confidante
My constant companion even and especially when times were tough
Though I doubt you speak English
You are a Russian Blue, after all
I know you’ll purr when I read this to you just the same
If there are four chambers in my heart
You’ve crept into one of them
Like the box I brought you home in
And there I’ll hold you forever

"Echoes" - Ellen Wynne





"Echoes" - Ellen Wynne


With
all
being
unified,
we curled still in sleep,
part of an unborn universe
wound into an unspeakably small dense white-hot coil,
the speck in which was writ the whole divine blueprint awaiting a soundless explosion.

We
were
expelled,
torn apart,
flung spiraling out
to wander through an untold void,
and in cold and black-dark nothing to unfurl ourselves,
frail amnesiac orphans stumbling one over the other in search of light and heat.

Still,
when
we pause
to look up,
our eyes shine in awe,
reflecting the burning bodies
that stare back at us across the gulf of space and time.

"LISTENING TO THE BAND NEUROSIS WHILE PAINTING THE HALLWAY GREY" - Alex Johns



"LISTENING TO THE BAND NEUROSIS WHILE PAINTING THE HALLWAY GREY" - Alex Johns

It makes sense to wear headphones
while you improve your home.
What one might wonder, though,
is “what does something
called Neurosis sound?”

Right now, it’s how
humanity
enters The End;

The radiant breaks down into life! they cry;
like a canyon falling in,
the gradient of paint getting thin.

They sound like
the sun
one day
changed its mind and decided
to suddenly tumble from the sky,

the medicine men raging from every perspective,
the heaviest band there is.

Instead of a roller, I’m using a brush,
not because I’m a craftsman,
or old fashioned,
clearly not,
but since I’m desperate
and determined to stay that way,
still wearing punk rock shirts
at this age.

I remove the smoke detector,
like a troubling mole,

my brush darkening the off white,
wiping out what was,
what can never be again.

You and me as we were
and
aware of where we should have been.

That’s what they sound like:
The fear the Lord arose
to sneak away in the night,

left nothing but a scribbled note,
a last honey-do list.

That’s Neurosis:

music that chews you up into
your own

personal
apocalypse.

There.

Done.

Alex's collection Darwin's Book of Saints was published in 2018 by Aurore Press in Cincinnati.

"Dry January/Ex-Dream" - Jay Morris


"Dry January/Ex-Dream" - Jay Morris

The first, second, and third days tremble through the week
Stumbling and nascent, their legs shaking off the weight of entering the world
Anew
Senses sharpen like knives on the whetstone
Appetite and thirst shift between stagnation and craving
How odd to think of you now…

On the fourth and fifth day my stomach
Sends me quaking into the kitchen with appetite and thirst
Renewed
I toss together kale, spinach, arugula, and olives dressed with tahini and garlic
When I first met you
You were dressed in bourbon and ginger
The night flushed in your cheeks and eclipsed your demeanor
Earth’s shadow pours blood over the moon

The sixth and seventh days convince me
Of my power over the urge
I button up my shirt, slip into oversized slacks
Crank up the car and it sputters with the weight of age and rust and moisture
Before ambling through the driveway, scraping past the shoulders of bushes
Their waxy leaves winking in the winter morning light

When I first met you
I noticed your eyes were the color of hazel
They danced between green and cold
The same way the sunlight does, bouncing from leaf to leaf
On tree to tree

How odd to think of you now

As all my poisons are dispelled from my body

"Lo-Fi Labor" - Jay Morris




"Lo-Fi Labor" - Jay Morris

Find me in my real life
Hardworking and laborious
With a loosening knee
And a tightening mind

If I told you I"d been working since I was 12
Would you believe me?
If I worked myself to death
Would you call it noble?
Stick a Benjamin in my mouth and call it a flower.
Hope it pays for my Uber across the river Styx?

Thought if I did my life right it would all make sense
But now im slugging through 60 hour work weeks for dollars and cents
My mind is unraveling
My loose knee is throbbing and im swirling and recessed
The void in me twirling and depressed

Words can't be flowers when you're working past the 9-5
And the 9-5 becomes the 6-3
But I know you'll stick a dollar bill in my mouth when you bury me

Haunted by the ghosts of all the time I've killed
Trying to stuff the hungry maw of a bank account
Listening to lo-fi hip hop in my down time
Hoping I can unwind in time
Before I clock back in for my next shift



"Lo-Fi Labor" originally appeared online at Jay's website.

"Heru's Path (The Still Dawn)" - Daniel Mapp

"Heru's Path (The Still Dawn)" - Daniel Mapp


We shall seek Truth's fire,
Before His stern eyes rise,
When Men meet as ranks,
Linton that come to weep;
In the fence's broken wire,
That we pass like nomads,
For a lost heritage beyond,
Twin Oak's ghetto and hate,
By their savior's final dawn.

"Take away my paintbrush" - Eileen Clark

"Take away my paintbrush" - Eileen Clark


I lie awake and miss you in my heart

longing for your touch

yearning for your words

I miss you

and you become everything

you become the Prince Charming I always wanted

riding away with me on your magical horse

finding my shoe at the ball and searching all over town to find me

you become the air I need to breathe

when I was perfectly capable of breathing on my own.

you become the end game

the final goal

the winning shot

the perfect answer

you become Adam

before original sin was brought upon man

untainted

unscathed by evil

you become my fairy princess

granting me several wishes

telling me to pick wisely, but not to wish for more

because you can only provide so many wishes

you become the sunset and sunrise

your storm clouds fuel my garden

and allow me to dance in their rain

your smile is rejuvenating

and your hands are warm

as the dark days are painted over by my paintbrush of longing

longing

the perfect remedy to forget everything that has ever happened

the ideal fix to any broken relationship

the final ingredient to unhealthy conversations

the bandaid

that tapes over the holes you left last time you were here

longing

paints over my past

and creates a brighter future

filled with hope and love and reconciliation and broken promises

taking away the pain of the old

and inducing excitement of the new

longing

the only drug I need to forget who I am

where I was

where I am

and where I want to go

"Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" - Danelle Lejeune



"Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" - Danelle Lejeune


Red like the Mardi Gras beads that turn
under my fingers. Father brought
them home from a bar on Bourbon Street.
I wrap them around my head, body; and dance
around the kitchen. Red like the garnet rosary beads
nailed up over her bed to warn spirits away.
Convinced the house was full of ghosts.
Poker-playing demons taunt her from the corner.
Feufollet blinking in the darkness when she closes
her eyes. In the kitchen, a pot of gumbo boils
through her mother’s aluminum pot, cracks
and spills into the flames. The kitchen fills
with smoke. Blood-red tomatoes washing
over white enamel. Red, like the fear she gave.
Mother Mary Full of Grace, protect us from this
battered lace. Red. Red. Red and lovely, scared
and curled on the kitchen floor, pregnant
with her third, fourth, if you count the one
never born. The red, spilled and sticky
on the floor. So red.



Danelle Lejeune was a featured reader at Word, January 2019. "Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" appeared online at Literary Mama in 2017.

"Bliss" - Dennis Bagwell



"Bliss" - Dennis Bagwell

Poor Monsters bride!
Resurrected from the dead by massive electrocution
Feeling faint and unsteady on her feet
That awful gown
Face all scarred
The worst bad hair day in history
 
And what’s in it for her?
 
No bride’s maids
An arranged marriage
By a deranged doctor
To a poorly dressed, hideous monster with a drinking problem and no manners
A smoker with an unreasonable aversion to fire and limited conversational skills
Not to mention he’s prone to occasional fits of murder and he expects her to live in his damp, moldy dungeon in wedded bliss
Naturally, she rejects his romantic advances and this unreasonable imposition on her pursuit of happiness
So he mumbles an incoherent threat and blows up the laboratory in a murder-suicide 10 minutes after he meets her
What a dick!