John L. Stanizzi: “Ghost Town”

Ghost Town

                   East Hartford, Connecticut
                   December, 1967

_____When I got home from Fort Dix, East Hartford was a ghost-town. Everyone was either working, at school, in Nam, or dead, so I’d spend long, bleak, suicidal afternoons in the woods naked, one hand on my dick, one on my old man’s shotgun, practicing being born, learning to die.

 

John L. Stanizzi’s full-length collections are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallalujah Time!, and High Tide-Ebb Tide. His work is widely published and has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly, American Life in Poetry, The Cortland Review, Paterson Literary, Tar River Poetry, and many others. Chants, his latest book, will be out this summer.

Advertisements

Carol Hamilton: “Diary Keeping”

Diary Keeping

Pepys gave up his habit,
aging, for fear it caused
his growing blindness.
At the end of his days
the significance of ink was,
he said, an early death for him.
I kept diaries from 4th grade
through one year of college.
As a child, I read
my wildly-spelled words
to trapped victims at family gatherings.
I copied in and blacked out
“love” notes from little boys
with my many shifts of mood.
I was voluminous with ink,
stuffing extra pages
into the 5-year diaries
so that locks and tiny keys
were useless. Older, my markings
spewed over into letters,
many and long.

My mother saved boxes
of my verbiage, words that now
walk me through forgotten days.
My long-ago chronicles send
me reliving past joys
without the worries, anxieties,
lead me into a stand-still time
formed of the banal
and the extra-ordinary.
My lineal life circles and circles
round and round, endless cycle,
even as the ancients told
and even as Pepys’ ink endures.

 

Carol Hamilton has recent publications in Southwestern American Literature, Bluestem, Cold Mountain Review, Commonweal, Common Ground, Louisiana Review, Birmingham Literary Arts, Broad River Review, Louisiana Literature, Haight-Ashbury Poetry Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, and others. She has published 17 books. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.

 

Joe Balaz: “Off to Thailand”

Off to Thailand

She stay off to Thailand
foa talk to wun Chi Nei Tsang master

to get moa expertise
in da field of therapeutic massage.

I tink she healing da mind too

as she wings her way
on her latest adventure.

 

Space
it’s wun wide open concept

and it looks like dats wat she needed.

 

I stay tinking all of dis
in da belly of wun great beast

dat has taken me
to da bottom of da sea.

 

Heah in solitary
in da illuminating blackness

I’m just like Jonah
in da diving whale.

 

Da brain can rewire anyting

and in dis strange confinement
heaving to da motion of my host

I can plainly see multicolored kites
dancing and bobbing in da sky

witout looking through my eyes.

 

Maybe dose
are like da random prayer flags

dat she going view in Chiang Mai

each one wun wish
and wun mystery to behold.

 

She stay off to Thailand
all da way around da world

while I stay riding
dis unseen leviathan

waiting to be placed
on some newfound shore.

 

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature. Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Unlikely Stories Mark V, Otoliths, Tuck Magazine, and The Lake, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature. He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cammy Thomas: “Teetering”

Teetering

When the body that’s failing
isn’t my own
even its smallest cough
wakes me.

I wait for the trees to show up
outside before
I would even consider
moving and waking him.

When he teeters in the bathroom,
collapses against me,
is it time to call the doctor,
the ambulance?

I don’t fight him about sleeping
with the cold fan on
or refusing to eat anything
for a day.

Now we just walk to the corner,
not over the hill–
and I watch for the high curb
and the storm drains. . .

 

Cammy Thomas has two collections of poems with Four Way Books: Inscriptions (2014), and Cathedral of Wish (2006), winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award. Her poems are forthcoming or have recently appeared in Tampa Review, Ocean State Review, The Missouri Review and elsewhere. Cammy lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

 

George Thomas: “Reams of Poetry Adrift”

Reams of Poetry Adrift

one poetry market
they threw your poems out
distributed them
to barroom bathrooms
bus stop benches
soapy Laundromat counters
they said they wanted to “get ur shit out”
get it out where it might do some good

Bukowski’s been in that one
Lin Lifshin too
and old Bull Lee
had Whitman been here, him too probably
and most likely Vachel as well
before he drank Lysol

it’s a vision all right —
poems lying in the gutter
reams of poetry adrift in puddles
on whore-night streets
and hangover dawns
beside cum-filled condoms
on blustery streets
the final destination of every immortal thought

ask any drifter with a poem in his pack

 

Retired now from life’s work as CNC machinist, George Thomas has been
writing poetry for most of his life with some little success but not enough
to encourage him. Recently Washington State poet laureate Tod Marshall
included one of his poems in WA129, an anthology of Washington poets.

 

 

Nels Hanson: “Song to No Music”

Song to No Music

As a boy he yearned to sing only songs
of praise but now his words all sound
like broken requiems. Even the spring
leaves wave goodbye as country roads

turn to rushing arteries supplying nutrients
for a spreading unmentionable disease.
Listen to the lilies’ white trumpets play
their dirge and see the yellow poppies

among red rocks show a scarlet stain
as if the stones were bleeding. Something
in us is catching. “When was it, about
1956, when you passed a stranger on

the sidewalk and said hello and that
person didn’t answer back?” Kerouac
asked once. The year is now 2018 and
things are stranger since hate elected

its king president. Today my wife said
she’d just learned something she didn’t
know before–the octopus has three
hearts, two to pump its blue-green blood

to gills to breathe, the third to circulate
blood to the body, eight legs. I couldn’t
help but answer, “That’s three more
hearts than many people have.” Those

words make no tune. Better to be silent
like the dazed grass along the roadside
after a semi passes and the stalks stand
still as soldiers after a fearful battle.

 

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher, and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

Steve Harvester: “We Are Going to the Quarry”

We Are Going to the Quarry

They invited me, and I groaned
“Oh no, not another bar.”
Was there nothing else to do
For counselors in Vermont
When not minding the campers
But to spend our salaries on beer?

But staying alone was worse;
I hopped inside the last car,
Wondering as we passed each bar,
Left the highway, then the road,
Until the tires crunched gravel,
Then stopped at the very edge
Of a dark limestone quarry.

The full moon was just rising,
Huge twice, once over the trees,
And again in still water
Hundreds of feet down, they said,
Secret, silent, clean and cold.

We were all beautiful then,
So there wasn’t any shame
In stripping so that the moon
Turned tanned flesh to fairy white.
Two ladies had brought guitars,
Two boys pulled out jugs of wine.

We drank and sang to the moon
As it grew higher, smaller,
Our bodies more perfect than
They would ever be again.

 

Steve Harvester was a Methodist minister for 25 years, and is now a sales rep for a New England home remodeling company. He and Judy are the parents of four. This is his first year working on his poems seriously.