I Age (V2) Arthritis and aging make it hard, I walk gingerly, with a cane, and walk slow, bent forward, fear threats, falls, fear denouement─ I turn pages, my family albums become a task. But I can still bake and shake, sugar cookies, sweet potato, lemon meringue pies. Alone, most of my time, but never on Sundays, friends and communion, United Church of Canada. I chug a few down, love my Blonde Canadian Pale Ale, Copenhagen long cut a pinch of snuff. I can still dance the Boogie-woogie, Lindy Hop in my living room, with my nursing care home partner. Aging has left me with youthful dimples, but few long-term promises.
Crypt in the Sky (V2) Order me up, no one knows where this crypt in the sky like a condo on the 5th floor suite don’t sell me out over the years; please don’t bury me beneath this ground, don’t let me decay inside my time pine casket. Don’t let me burn to cremate skull last to turn to ashes. Treasure me high where no one goes, no arms reach, stretch. Building for the Centuries then just let it fall. These few precious dry bones preserved for you, sealed in the cloud no relocation is necessary, no flowers need to be planted, no dusting off that dust each year, no sinners can reach this high. Jesus’ heaven, Jesus’ sky. Note: Dedicated to the passing of beloved Katie Balaskas.
Priscilla, Let’s Dance (V2) Priscilla, Puerto Rican songbird, an island jungle dancer, Cuban heritage, rare parrot, a singer survivor near extinction. She sounds off on notes, music her vocals hearing background bongos, piano keys, Cuban horns. Quote the verse patterns, quilt the pieces skirt bleeds, then blend colors to light a tropical prism. Steamy Salsa, a little twist, cha-cha-cha dancing rhythms of passions, sacred these islands. Everything she has is movement tucked nice and tight but explosive. She mimics these ancient sounds showing her ribs, her naked body. Her ex-lovers remain nightmares pointed daggers, so criminal, so stereotyped. Priscilla purifies her dreams with repentance. She pours her heart out, everything condensed to the bone, petite boobies, cheap bras, flamboyant G-strings. Her vocabulary is that of sin and Catholicism. Island hurricanes form her own Jesus slants of hail, detonate thunder, the collapse of hell in her hands after midnight. Priscilla remains a background rabble-rouser, almost remorseful, no apologies to the counsel of Judas wherever he hangs.
Willow Tree Poem (V2) Wind dancers dancing to the willow wind, lance-shaped leaves swaying right to left all day long. I’m depressed. Birds hanging on- bleaching feathers out into the sun.
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in the greater Chicagoland area, IL. He has 283 YouTube poetry videos. Michael Lee Johnson is an internationally published poet in 44 countries, a song lyricist, has several published poetry books, has been nominated for 6 Pushcart Prize awards, and 6 Best of the Net nominations. He is editor-in-chief of 3 poetry anthologies, all available on Amazon, and has several poetry books and chapbooks. He has over 453 published poems. Michael is the administrator of 6 Facebook Poetry groups. Member Illinois State Poetry Society: http://www.illinoispoets.org/
Something for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba Something inescapable is lost— lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight, vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars immeasurable and void. Something uncapturable is gone— gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn, scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass and remembrance. Something unforgettable is past— blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less, which finality has swept into a corner ... where it lies in dust and cobwebs and silence. Styx Black waters—deep and dark and still. All men have passed this way, or will. Spring Was Delayed Winter came early: the driving snows, the delicate frosts that crystallize all we forget or refuse to know, all we regret that makes us wise. Spring was delayed: the nubile rose, the tentative sun, the wind’s soft sighs, all we omit or refuse to show, whatever we shield behind guarded eyes. Infinity for Beth Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair? Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach, then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach? Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage? Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too, have dreamed of infinity . . . windswept and blue. Hearthside “When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” — W. B. Yeats For all that we professed of love, we knew this night would come, that we would bend alone to tend wan fires’ dimming bars—the moan of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew an eerie presence on encrusted logs we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves. The books that line these close, familiar shelves loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs, too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park, as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss. I do not know the words for easy bliss and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark, long-unenamored pen and will it: Move. I loved you more than words, so let words prove. Love Has a Southern Flavor Love has a Southern flavor: honeydew, ripe cantaloupe, the honeysuckle’s spout we tilt to basking faces to breathe out the ordinary, and inhale perfume ... Love’s Dixieland-rambunctious: tangled vines, wild clematis, the gold-brocaded leaves that will not keep their order in the trees, unmentionables that peek from dancing lines ... Love cannot be contained, like Southern nights: the constellations’ dying mysteries, the fireflies that hum to light, each tree’s resplendent autumn cape, a genteel sight ... Love also is as wild, as sprawling-sweet, as decadent as the wet leaves at our feet. Remembering Not to Call a villanelle permitting mourning, for my mother, Christine Ena Burch The hardest thing of all, after telling her everything, is remembering not to call. Now the phone hanging on the wall will never announce her ring: the hardest thing of all for children, however tall. And the hardest thing this spring will be remembering not to call the one who was everything. That the songbirds will nevermore sing is the hardest thing of all for those who once listened, in thrall, and welcomed the message they bring, since they won’t remember to call. And the hardest thing this fall will be a number with no one to ring. No, the hardest thing of all is remembering not to call. Sunset for my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt Sr. Between the prophecies of morning and twilight’s revelations of wonder, the sky is ripped asunder. The moon lurks in the clouds, waiting, as if to plunder the dusk of its lilac iridescence, The and in the bright-tentacled sunset we imagine a presence full of the fury of lost innocence. What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame, brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim, we recognize at once, but cannot name.
Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth and two incredibly spoiled puppies. He has over 6,000 publications, including poems that have gone viral. His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes and puns have been published by TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, Writer’s Digest–The Year’s Best Writing and hundreds of literary journals. His poetry has been translated into 14 languages, taught in high schools and colleges, and set to music by 23 composers, including two potential operas if the money ever materializes. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com, has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks, is on the board of Borderless Journal, an international literary journal, and has judged a number of poetry contests over the years.
GIN RUMMIES To find a friend one must close one eye. To keep him—two. —Norman Douglas for Rodney Formon Friday nights, a fry-cook, arms scarred by sizzling fat, Rodney bangs on my door. We like to drink together, shoot the breeze, and laugh. Drunk enough, we sing! It’s karaoke with CDs scattered on the table, improvisational shandygaffs and combinations you can’t enjoy with your relations. It’s good to have a drinking buddy. I’ve used up two already— one who fell down a flight of stairs and one, who was much older, who died of his warrior life. But now I’ve got Rodney, who is very different from the others. The other two were quite and somewhat intellectual, and where the one could talk history or science, art, music, or just about any subject in just about any language and come back, being polyglot, and polymath, even polymorphic, after hooch; the other was a man of action, a war hero with many medals tucked away in drawers locked by indifference, but still would tell of weapons, arms and the man, and such with fervor—my Heraclitus— and also with disgust, with fatalism, believing nothing changes in man’s fighting nature, disposed to think the worst; but enthusiastic over chess, which he played in earnest as if he were at war again. But Rodney is another sort: He knows I write but will not read a word I write, nor much else either, but likes the Internet so much he slides crabwise in thought, toward what depth of cyberspace I often cannot fathom until zing I see it for myself, or am I drunk? I see with Rodney that the other two, complimented first my young and then my middle-aged delusions of a deeper self-knowledge than available to most. Yes, Rodney shows me to myself, or shows me to my youthful ghosts, as ego-fed, but did and does this unintentionally, whose wonderful indifference makes me shrink like a cock in the cold, and chug my drink. THE FIDDLER An Appalachian Tale Played the devil’s fiddle, stomping to it, shaking it out, full of corned blood, his boot down down down! Days before the corn, his old bitch Lucy lay by his piston heel. Said later she smelled it, stayed by it, waiting for the meaty bone; said later never done him no harm at all; said later not even a ghost of evil but Lucy got it, old bloodhound bitch like red clay, wrinkled old lady hanging from her own bones—could make her moon-howl, pointing his wild bow—do that at dances. Devil in a Baptist, playing the fiddle. Gradual as the mountains, he found out how the devil got in. Fiddle under his spiked, gray chin, corn jug thumb-hooked and cradled on top his elbow—capful for Lucy—then stomp stomp stomp: music through Blue Ridge pines! Could choo choo it so’s you see smoke and steam, hear that wheezy accordion whistle; could conjure with it up a trainload of places or turn you back home to the station of pines and blue smoke mountains, bring musical rain, or put the devil in your heart, winking and drinking and stomping. Everybody loved him and his Lucy, including said devil, as the corn dropped down into his right big toe. Said it hurt to stomp. But it don’t stop the fiddler. Don’t nothing stop the fiddler! He was one thing else than music; he was a man. Take more’n corn going through, dropping down in my right big toe, says at the May dance, everybody seeing him stomp, ouch ouch ouch on his big red gray spiked old corned face. Devil got in through the corn, slick as silk; got down in my boot, but I’ll stomp him out; give old Satan a head- ache—stomp stomp stomp! But that corn went to killing him. His bow was flying! Went on like this, folks say, a tad’s five year, him stomping the devil in the corn and the devil stomping back. Said now he couldn’t play no more if he don’t get rid o’ that old devil. Takes him a broad wood chisel out back on a stump, sets his right foot up, sets that chisel to his toe, and strikes down with a good hefty hammer. When he pulls back his foot, that devil in the corned toe stays on the stump, says looka me, I’m off! Has brought him some fireplace soot and some gingham. Sticks that foot in that black soot, to staunch the blood, and wraps it in gingham rags. Said never done him no harm again, quiet as a bone, and he goes back to stomping in peace, rid of the devil. But first, he throws that old corned toe to Lucy. Says: I knowed you always wanted it. Now mind the nail, Lucy; don’t let the devil get you, you drunk old droop-skinned hound bitch, cuz I love you. And Lucy goes to lickin’ that toe, pops it in, and goes to grinding up that devil in her old ground down chops. And next time we see them, the fiddler and his drunk bitch, they both full of corn, and ready, now, for the dance!
Schorb’s work has appeared in Agenda (UK), The American Scholar, The Carolina Quarterly, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Stand (UK), The Sewanee Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), The Yale Review, and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others.
His collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.
Most recently, his novel R&R a Sex Comedy was awarded the Beverly Hills Book Award for Humor.
the point being not every photo matters, and neither every memory. not to mention, they shape; they shift. like sands through the hourglass. these are the days of our lives. no semicolons. follow the rules. 9 i love homonyms [right this way.] (how much poetry is laziness, e.e. cummings?) the nine taking on significance suddenly. number nine. number nine. i went through a phase of thinking i was john lennon reincarnated. i guess that's probably not normal. i want to save this all for you, but there is nothing. nothing could possibly hold it all. what is this and what is all? the point being: salt of the earth i will make mountains, move mountains - all with my mind (i'd rather be crushed than wait) i'll pick the short stick. i'll wonder aloud at comprehensible ideas and miss the point. i'll stretch too thin and disappear--grasping/reaching/flailing beyond reforming out of place lavaseepingneversleeping i'll take everything with grains of salt fragile prisms of humanity created through brutality. [pay your taxes!] :) : ( pinnacle we've scrambled and strove. the trash mountain of our past accomplishments. it's growing fast and we can't keep up. and here we are, at the pinnacle, celebrating, teetering at the top freefall from our forte of falsity, fame, freedom, or whatever we want it to be in the metaverse. will we be free, then, from chronological misery, mr. musk? mr. zuckerberg? gentlemen, what are your thoughts?
Jessica Skyfield is currently a teacher. She has been a scientist, a mother, will always be a student, and worn other hats, too. Her poems seek to bring light to our struggle with our awareness of our humanity: the juxtaposition of the smallness of ourselves when viewed universally and yet the large impact each of our individual actions can have.
THE BALLAD OF FACEBOOK (a musical in the making) by Sara L Russell 26th Jan ’23 at 21:19 Introduction Oh babes I feel so bored, what can I do? I think I’ll go on Facebook for a few… Part 1: Flakes and Fakes Like me like me go on and like me ‘cause I’m fluffy and I have a new book out ‘cause I posted a photo of myself as a kid when I had a rather fetching pout I’m far more fascinating than you’ll ever know look, here’s my back lawn when it was buried in snow here’s a lunchtime selfie of my latest dish here’s me next to some old photoshopped bitch Oh but there’s a blonde strolling by the Tiber with her two perfect little blond boys A golden sunrise smouldering behind her You can almost smell the spices, hear the noise Ya this is me walking like a tiger by some Indian river, with the boys, Oh I think someone just told me it’s the Tiber The smell was like, much grosser than the noise. But ya thanks for the comments, all my darlings My likes have rocketed to fifty K I’ve traded up, flamingos for the starlings And I’m having awesome nookie every day! For all the nobodies never make my heart bleed For I have a blog they never bother to read Part 2: Catfish and Chips Like me, like me be smart and like me ‘cause I have everything your kitchen needs You look like a munter more than likely ‘cause your face mask dosesn’t have Nigella seeds We’re making greater riches than you’ll ever have by making romance pitches to some lonely chav And if you don’t have Bitcoin you can buy it here Just invest and watch your savings disappear Oh but there’s a lonely heart playing poker She’s ripe to be groomed for romance She wants a king, but here’s a joker we’ll lead her on the merriest dance Ya this is me sailing on my dinghy Ya I love you, even though you’re ninety three The customs officer’s trying to sting me Please send me forty smackers urgently Oh they don’t give a monkey’s if you’re sad or bereaved Tell it to your bank and you will not be believed … Part 3: Cool and Uncool Like me, like me, someone like me, my kids don’t even post here for a laugh maybe ‘cause when they were very tiny I posted photos of them in the bath So when did they decide that it was so uncool to comment on a parent’s photos, as a rule, To ever dare admit that they belong to me Since when’s it cool, to disown your family? Yes, this is Ken and I with Auntie Mary The younger ones all scampered off to hide Maybe they find TicToc somewhat less scary than Facebook, with the oldies by their side. For now girls of eighteen are giving Botox tips And twenty-three year olds have silicone-plumped lips. Epilogue Like me, like me Go on and like me Some people never learn Fill in your details password or site key and sort key, and hit return.
Sara Louise Russell, aka PinkyAndrexa, is a UK poet and poetry ezine editor, specialising particularly in sonnets, lyric-style poetry and occasionally writing in more modern styles. She founded Poetry Life & Times and edited it from 1998 to 2006, when she handed it over to Robin Ouzman Hislop and Amparo Arrospide; Robin now runs it as Editor from Poetry Life & Times at this site. She is currently founder and Editor of the blog journal, http://poetrylifetimes.blogspot.co.uk ; which is a sister publication to Poetry Life & Times. Her poems and sonnets have been published in many paper and online publications including Sonnetto Poesia, Mindful of Poetry and Autumn Leaves a monthly Poetry ezine from the late Sondra Ball. Her sonnets also currently appear in the recently published anthology of sonnets Phoenix Rising from the Ashes. She is also one of the first poets ever to be published on multimedia CD ROMs, published by Kedco Studios Inc.; the first one being “Pinky’s Little Book of Shadows”, which was featured by the UK’s national newspaper The Mirror, in October 1999. (Picture link for Mirror article) Angel Fire