Sunday, 3 December 2017

Dancing Became Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Celtic Choice (by Fays) Irish ghillies

It’s called the “Feis," a Gaelic word pronounced “fesh.” It’s a dance contest held annually in different cities in the United States. It’s the “Super Bowl” for young Irish step-dancers. When I competed in the Feis back in the Fifties, there were dancers there from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and other countries. They took planes, trains and buses to get there to compete, usually in a stadium or some other large venue.

The best Irish fiddlers provided the music. The judges were old men, retired dancers themselves, serious as clerics, sitting in trios at scoring tables in front of the platforms where the contestants competed.

The audience sat in the stands or on folding chairs out on the field near the dance platforms. They chatted when there was no music but were silent during the competition. All you could hear then was the beat of the feet and the fiddlers playing their hearts out.

The Feis began with the various solo dancing contests--reels, jigs, and hornpipes. Toward the end of the day, teams of dancers, male and female couples, competed in the three-hand reel, six-hand reel and the eight-hand jig. This was a serious competition. Dancers practiced all year, hoping to take home trophies and medals.

In 1956 I was 18 and had been dancing competitively for at least 10 years. I started taking lessons early in grammar school to please my father who had emigrated to Chicago from Ireland. In his part of Ireland, step-dancing was at least a sport if not a religion.

In the United States it was mostly girls who took Irish dancing. But my sister, try as she might, was unable to do it.

I happened to be in the basement the afternoon my father, once a fine dancer himself, tried to teach her the first step of the reel. To show her up, as brothers are sometimes wont to do, I danced the first step perfectly, just by watching my father do it, and from that moment on, I had to take Irish dancing lessons.

I can still hear him—after he saw me do the step my sister could not do--hollering up the basement stairs to my mother.

“Molly, he’s got it!”

I was in fourth grade then and danced competitively until the age of 21. Over the years I had come to love the music, the intricate footwork and the competition. And it didn’t hurt that the footwork helped in playing basketball.

From my father’s point of view, the goal of Irish dancing was two-fold—perfection, in that the feet were not to miss a beat, and victory, in that not a contest was to be lost.

Life being what it is, he was often disappointed.

The interesting thing is that the music of Irish reels, jigs, hornpipes instantly appealed to me. I felt it in my whole body right from the start even if I didn’t like all the practice time involved, time I would rather have spent playing ball.

The teacher, a man also from Ireland, not far from my father’s hometown, was a former boxer as was my father. Needless to say, they were of like mind. So we children had to train for a dancing contest as if for a championship fight or close to it. A lesson might take half an hour followed by two hours of practice. And there was no air-conditioning back then except in movie theaters.

It just so happened that in my class we had four boys, all the same age, myself included. We grew up together, dancing every year in contests when not playing ball or doing other things boys normally do.

In Irish dancing, boys were a rarity. No other dancing school had four boys so they could not field a “real” eight-hand jig, as it was called, with four boys and four girls. Most schools had eight girls in their eight-hand jig. But without boys, an all-girls team in 1956 probably lost points on optics alone if nothing else.

We had four boy/girl couples and we had been dancing as a team for years by the time the contest at Fordham University rolled around in 1956.

We figured we’d take the train to New York from Chicago and whip every team we competed against, no matter what state or country they were from. After all, we had beaten all the other teams from other Irish dancing schools in Chicago and some other mid-western cities.

That year the Feis was held in the August heat in Fordham's stadium and our eight-hand jig beat everybody, as we thought, except for an “old team” (four couples in their 30s) from Ireland we knew nothing about. 

We had seen them the night before in an Irish pub where fiddlers played nonstop the best of Irish music and everyone was dancing and hollering the way the Irish do when properly lubricated.

The four “old” men on the Irish eight-hand jig team had been drinking a bit, shall we say, and dancing with girls from other teams, including ours. And they were still dancing, finally with their own partners, long after our team had gone to our hotel rooms to get some sleep for the competition the next day.

But after watching that Irish team dance for fun in the pub that night, I realized that when the right feet were involved, dancing could be poetry.

Although the “old” Irish team had been drinking all night, they had sobered up by noon the next day when the competition began. We were dancing to win and they were still dancing for fun. We didn’t miss a beat and they didn’t either but they had literally an extra hop in their step, a leap if you will, that we had never seen.

What’s more, they smiled when they danced and demonstrated an unaffected grace.

In contrast, our team of boys and girls looked as serious as novices from a seminary and convent. We were kids trying hard and they were adult dancers having a wonderful time. They took the trophy and gold medals back to Ireland and we took our silver medals back to Chicago.

We had been trounced and we knew it. And there was nothing we could have done, before or after the contest, to beat that Irish team.

I can still see one of the men I had first seen in the pub the night before. He was as bald as the balls on the pool table and wore an Irish kilt. But that man could dance. He didn’t miss a beat, drunk or sober. His feet on the floor sounded like iambic pentameter with a little thunder added here and there for emphasis, especially at the end. 

Reels, jigs and hornpipes are still in my blood although it has been decades since I danced, for fun or competitively. When I hear the music now, I sometimes am moved almost to tears. It's the only music that ever really got to me.

That was a long time ago but every once in a while I wish I were young enough to get up on that platform at Fordham University and dance again, compete again, and then I remember that bald Irishman in his kilt and I know that once again I’d be taking home a silver medal.

Dancing for fun beats dancing to win. I learned that in 1956 watching a team from Ireland leap and not miss a beat as the fiddlers played their hearts out. The three judges knew the winners as soon as they saw that Irish team. They knew, in the heat of that August day, they had seen dancing suddenly become poetry.

*****

Long ago Donal Mahoney became an Irish dancer simply because the music was in his blood from birth apparently and his father discovered he could do the difficult steps. Music otherwise has never moved Mahoney except for hearing Frank Sinatra sing “Moonlight in Vermont” and just about anything else. One of many nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cave Art by Megan Denese Mealor

A man being hunted by a beast, Bhimbetka Cave paintings
Photography by Raveesh Vyas

the runes remembered
this cliff face charnel house
harboring celibate snakes
feral pirates eroded by waterfalls
a porous pottery tomb
enameled with windows and reflection
arsenical bronze atonement
work-weary malachite odes
paleolithic princes chiseled
and chiding in charcoal
red ochre epochs outlined
with torch marks and eventide
megafauna manganese
bellowings of bison bones
whittled wartimes and reindeer relics
embroidered clashes with the sea
hematite harlots inciting
horseback holocausts
the extinction of aweless echoes
within this null necropolis
within this elegiac eve

                                                                            Published in Zombie Logic Review, July 2017

*****

Megan Denese Mealor spins words into wares in Jacksonville, Florida, where she lives in imperfect harmony with her partner and son. Her work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in Literally Stories, The Ekphrastic Review, Liquid Imagination, Neologism Poetry Journal, Former People, Haikuniverse, Danse Macabre, Degenerates: Voices for Peace, Right Hand Pointing, Clockwise Cat, and Third Wednesday


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Killing the Brown Snake by John Grey

Western Brown Snake
By Andy (originally posted to Flickr as Western Brown)
via Wikimedia Commons


It was a hot summer’s day
and my father killed a snake,
smashed its head
with a shovel,
as two foot of brown body slithered
this way and that
as it lost all connection to its brain.

I wanted to bury the reptile
but he tossed it
into the woods behind the house
where the ants could make a meal of it
as it decomposed in the searing weather.

I checked it out later
when the insects had already moved in,
got close up with venomous fangs,
a flattened forked tongue.

“If one of them bites you,” my father said,
“you’d get very sick.”
He didn’t mention death
but, even at the age of eight,
the implication didn’t escape me.

I shuddered as I stood there.
imagining the snake
coiled around my body,
piercing my legs, my arms, my chest,
with those vampire teeth,
flooding my body with enough toxin
to drop me like a rifle shot.

But, that day,
the snake was the unfortunate boy,
my father was the viper.
I was just an ant
nibbling with my curious eyes.

*****

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident in Providence RI. Recently published in the Psaltery and Lyre.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Africa by Mitchell Grabois

Ebola virus by NIAID

I’m starving myself to death. I have quit my position in the Obese Liberation Army. I am a Deserter. I no longer eat desserts. I go from supermarket to supermarket, sabotaging ice cream freezers. The aisles are a soupy mess, but before the store managers have realized what’s happened, I am long gone.

Cheryl dreamed she was playing scrabble. She put down the word ‘zulu’ for thirty-two points. When she awoke, she lay in bed, her limbs sore, and heard the newspaper skid across her porch. She went to get it, barefoot, in her nightgown. Coolness announced that winter was coming. She bent to pick up the paper and the giant headline glared at her: Africans Extinct. Overnight a mutation of Ebola had killed them all.

Once the stench of the dead cleared, Cheryl realized, there would be vast resources to exploit, new countries to found and populate, with new, white Africans. Maybe, to dispel the bad luck, they would burn sage for weeks or months and rename the continent. She went to pack her bag. It would be like the Oklahoma Land Rush—the first to arrive would get the choice chunks of spiced goat meat.

*****

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Sunset by Robert Ronnow


Sunset, quiet, except
for happy birthday to neighbor’s child,
virgo, and all that means, purity
of morality, inability to scheme,
whatever else the stars dictated.

Woodpecker climbs oak, Connecticut.
Not ten years ago this mountain was
completely forested, untouched
since early arrival of Europeans.
Now my parents’ home and others stand
in new clearings. The birds
do not seem to mind. Sing,
and deer occasionally visit, from where?
Out of the pre-historic past.

That I must die
is my every third thought.
On my hands and knees, cold sweat,
my own body murdering me.
I meet death with the philosophy
I lived in life. Acceptance
of the loneliness, the unregarding
beauty. There is that shoreline
along the straits to Puget Sound,
in mist, the generations
of sea birds nesting on the water.

*****

Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Avis de parution : SURSIS - micro-fictions poétique et collages de Cathy Garcia

Couverture de Sursis de Cathy Garcia

Treize micro-fictions poétiques, bizarres, décalées, dérangées….

Dérangeantes ?


« Je l'observe avec étonnement et soudain, je vois ses lèvres venir s'écraser contre le rempart de verre et son regard virer au gris. Je la vois se retourner sur elle-même, cette crispation soudaine qui ne trompe pas. Je me demande l’espace d’un instant, si elle pourra obtenir rapidement son sursis, puis je m'éloigne, je voudrais profiter du mien. »

Dédale, collage de Cathy Garcia

Tirage numéroté, édité et imprimé par l’auteur
avec neuf collages papiers originaux réalisés par l'auteur
De cet ouvrage, est prévu un tirage de tête limité et numéroté à treize exemplaires avec illustrations en couleur le reste sera en noir et blanc
28 pages
sur papier 90g calcaire
couverture 250g calcaire
100 % recyclé


dépôt légal : octobre 2017

Le rire de l'attardé, collage de Cathy Garcia

15 € pour les treize exemplaires du tirage de tête
10 € pour le tirage en nombre
port offert jusqu'à fin octobre
chèque à l'ordre de :
Cathy Garcia
Létou
46330 St Cirq-Lapopie

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Chrono Car by Steven Translateur


     Gavin and Aubrey Githors entered a car dealership looking for a sedan.  They came with the $8000 bonus Gavin earned at his job as a watch designer.  He had invented the mountaineer precision chronograph - a doohickey that could keep time almost as well as an atomic clock.
     Rolland Cemt, a salesman gave a complete tour of the showroom.  He introduced they to the company's nifty compact, roomy wagon, luxurious mid-size, commode SUV, and magnificent van.  It enthralled they.
     "What vehicle do you want?" asked Rolland.
     "We have triplets on the way.  We need a spacious sedan," replied Aubrey.
     "What vehicle has a good clock - factory direct in it?" asked Gavin.
     "I recommend the mid-size Landerlux.  It can accommodate a family nicely and it has an excellent time keeper in its dashboard," said Rolland.
     "How much is it?" asked Gavin.
     "$15,000" said Rolland.
     "Too much," said Gavin.  "Can you come down to $8000?"
     "I can make it $13,000," offered Rolland.  "Beyond that I cannot haggle.  You see, I am not really a full time salesman.  I am actually a poet.  So I know rhyme and alliteration and not wheeling and dealing."
     "Ok," said Gavin.  "Let us hear a poem."
     "Very well," said Rolland.  And he took them into an office and read them this:

THE ENGINE OR THE BODY

Silvery sleek fiberglass dream vehicle;
sun roof, fins, unspoiler, fuel tank that is full.

If you are ambitious you can go so far
in a magnificent gorgeous new job car.

Trip after trip, wonderful fun all the way
until the motor bursts and burns to decay.

Swapped the engine with other manufacturers.
Whether it would be noticed, I was not sure.

Who is the maker of an automobile -
engine-er or bodyer or both equal?


     "Ok," sighed Gavin.  "We shall purchase the automobile for $13,000 but we must finance it."
     "Deal!" exclaimed Rolland.  "What color would you like it in?
     "What do you suggest?" inquired Aubrey.
     Rolland proclaimed:  "Red is and must always be for royalty.  Orange is for the unbelievably and courageously outrageous.  White is for winners.  Yellow accommodates yearnings.  Blue is for the beautiful people.  Black is for the very best.  Indigo is so rare that it is certainly interesting.  Purple is for the exceedingly polite.  Burgundy is for the precious blondes and brunettes.  Chartreuse shall get you noticed and appreciated and thought of as original and daring and trend setting.  Brown can get you around town in style and class and show you a great time.  Pink is unquestionably and considerably nearly perfect.  Violet is almost absolutely virtuous."
     "You are somewhat of a bizarre sort?  Are you not sir?  But we like you anyway, "said Gavin.
       "In any case," said Aubrey," we shall take the motor car in the hue of yellow.  Because we are all bananas!"
     "Yellow it is!" said Rolland.  "The car shall be here in a week for pickup.  Good luck with everything."
     The Githors left the dealership smiling.

*****

Steven Translateur's work has appeared in a variety of publications including MEMES, MIND IN MOTION, and NEXT PHASE.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Crosswise Gaze by Caleb Puckett

Random Words Make A Sentence by Steve Snodgrass


At the behest of heavy appendages, close in. Now that crushed carapace on the roadside,
now those fallen chips on the poker table. A pile of eyes scattering as red trumps green, barrels opening to the thinnest of impossibilities in that crosswise gaze.

Panning wider, we realize we’ve made a rhyme of graven images to serve a less tangible theme. We’re told that death’s jokes rely on making a symmetry of the incongruous. So, a gambler and a turtle walked into a bar…

During the supposition, we arrive at a motto: Deus Vult. Now to assign a moral to the blank before you. Instinctively, each actor felt free to think. Intellectually, we felt bound to deviate. Living this way on paper is no small feat.

***

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. He's published a few books over the years and edits the lit journal Futures Trading

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Fallen to Dust by Fabrice Poussin

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) fallen leaves by Dcrjsr


A snapshot of two scores should not collapse,
corners ripped, creases and coffee stains,
willing to remain on the rusty hook,
unable to keep a horizon, blind to a future.

A grave space saw the light of day where shoulders
used to touch.  A thin mist has made a wart,
so faces look away from a previous goal
shared.  Flakes of fall leaves die on the musty floor.

It seems no magic wand can bring together what
two hands failed to protect from the morrow;
walls cold and alone squeeze in a little tighter
the worm devoured frame cracks in deep distress.

It will not be long now, for all the parts conspire,
exhausted by a journey of sparse rocks and muddy puddles;
the soiled canvas begs for a moment’s reprieve;
it tilts a little more hanging to its last inaudible breath.

Two scores and no more, kindness is the only glue,
cruelty forgiven; purity of soul in the balance
is of no weight to the vengeful heart. Thus go my friend
into the dark shadows that curdle the blood to still ice.

Your partner in old crimes will go on to capture in the folds
of the old image, a smile or two, perhaps some fear;
it is done, broken, mirror of decades full of giddy life,
among cuts of another year’s news, it lays now a corpse.

*****

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 250 other publications.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Use The Force, Luke by Mark Young


He slept badly. He had visions, accompanied by horrific noises – Lawrence Welk, polka bands, or perhaps animals being strangled, being stuck, having their throats cut. It was as if he had been kidnapped off the streets, then kept in a cell with walls that expanded & contracted, & wheezed, like being in the lungs of someone with emphysema.

Then he was walking into a hall, being lead towards a large throne. There were rows of accordions on both sides of him, but segregated, keys to the left, buttons to the right. More emphysemic noise as they jeered at him. The rhythm of straps being struck on lederhosened legs.

He stood before the throne. An old concertina sat there, connected to bottles of oxygen & mineral oils. "I am the Capo del tutti accordioni," it wheezed at him through a microphone implanted in one of its pleats. "You have been found guilty of uttering threats & imprecations against La Grande Famiglia. You will be punished." The hall erupted into a cacophony of animal noises.

In the morning he awoke. He felt different, metamorphosed somehow. He tried to get out of bed, succeeded, but only by falling from it. He moved towards the mirror. It was difficult to do, felt as if he was forcing someone else to move, that he was being gripped by some thing that surrounded him with an aura of false joviality. That hovered over him & sang, "Am I blue?"

He reached the mirror. & screamed at his reflection.

*****

Mark Young's most recent books are bricolage, from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York. A limited edition chapbook, A Few Geographies, was recently released by One Sentence Poems as the initial offering in their new range.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Hamlet 2.0 by JD DeHart

Bishop of Battle by bavatuesdays on Flickr


Alas, poor Yorick. Life really sucks right now. Insert melancholy Emoji here.

My daddy issues are piling up, and my uncle is not helping this situation at all. He can be such a drag. I just started a blog called “Mom, How Could You?” and it already has 200 hits. I don’t intentionally spread my unhappiness, but the attention really helps.

Sigh, poor Yorick. Oh, sigh.

To be, or not to be? That is the question. Who cares at this point? I can barely get Broadband in this spot, and this ghost guy keeps texting me. I’m tired of questions, and I have the ACT next week. It’s so unfair.

I am really starting to think about revenge, but it can be such hard work. Would I have to get up for that? I really like sleeping in, and a full-scale revenge plot sounds like it could take A LOT of planning. Even more strategy than my Angry Birds app.

Sigh. What would Rick from The Walking Dead do? He would go for revenge. I just can’t decide. Plus, who knows? It might end badly.

But at least I’m not the only depressed teen around here. This Ophelia girl is the most emo girl in town. It’s simultaneously boring and hot.
Should I suffer the slings and arrows of getting a haircut? Everybody expects me to get a job and do something important, but all I want to do is find myself. What is a sling anyway? Is that a new app?

I think I’ll just curl up in the castle and post something on Instagram.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Farmer and Toulouse Lautrec by Donal Mahoney

Portrait de Toulouse-Lautrec au boa.


Technology is wonderful, especially in medicine, Elmo told Opal, the day their son Brett called to tell them the good news. The doctor had told Brett and Debbie their first child would be a boy, according to the machine in the doctor's office.

Elmer never trusted machines other than the machines he used on the farm and Opal didn't either but they were happy to hear about their first grandchild.

"It's wonderful news," Opal told Brett over the phone. "Your father and I will have two cups of cocoa tonight. It's as cold as you probably remember growing up in North Dakota. I know that teaching at the university means you and Debbie must live in Florida but your father and I miss you."

Six months later, Brett called again to say the same machine in the Doctor's office now showed their grandson would be a dwarf. Brett and Debbie had seen the baby on the screen. But this was the first baby they had ever seen on a machine like that so they had to take the doctor's word that the boy would be a dwarf. All they could see was a tiny shape pulsating in the midst of a blur.

"Mom," Brett said, "Debbie and I don't now if we want a dwarf for a son."

Opal was stunned by the news about a dwarf grandchild and began to cry before handing the phone to her husband.

Elmo commiserated with his son as much as he could. But Elmo too was at a loss for words. Finally he mentioned to Brett, a professor with a doctorate in French art, that it was lucky doctors didn't have one of those machines before Toulouse Lautrec had been born.

Lautrec, of course, had been a dwarf and his work and his life had both been influenced greatly by his short stature. Elmo couldn't remember for certain but there may have been some deformity involved as well. That kind of thing can happen with a dwarf.

Brett's doctoral dissertation had been on the work of Lautrec. Elmo remembered seeing prints of Lautrec's work around the house and pictures and drawings of the artist as well. He found both interesting and disturbing.

Nevertheless, Elmo, a farmer in North Dakota for almost 50 years, had come to love the work of Toulouse Lautrec, having seen so much of it in books and slides when Brett was writing his dissertation. His son hadn't married Debbie yet and he had come home to finish the paper for his doctoral degree.

After finishing his conversation with Brett, Elmo hung up the phone and sighed. Then he sat down at the kitchen table and scratched his head while Opal poured two cups of strong coffee. It had been kept warm on the stove since early morning.

Finally Elmo said, "Opal, who knows what kind of boy that grandson of ours would have been. He'd have been a dwarf, yes, but Lautrec was a dwarf, and he did wonderful work. I don't know if anyone ever asked him if he would have been happier not to have lived. I know our grandson wouldn't have been able to ride any of the horses but we could have bought him a pony.”

*****

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had work published in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter and other magazines. Some of his online work can be found athttp://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Kool-Aid by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



My blood turned to water
and my body into a glass pitcher

Someone came and sprinkled granules
and the water turned grapey

People came and drank of me
and died in agonizing pain
Their bodies littered the ground

2.
Tanks pushed their mighty weight down the tarmac
North Koreans goose-stepped
Lily pad blooms in ponds kept silent

The Kool-Aid turned back into blood
I had no control of these metamorphoses
The pitcher turned back into flesh and bone

I was the same as I had always been
but now I was leaner, more muscular
a finely conditioned athlete
if a little anemic
I took care of that with iron capsules

I went through the North Korean town punching people
throwing them against brick walls
but that became boring

I became a pacifist
a humanist
a Unitarian-Universalist

I believed that God was One
and loves everybody
and would not punish me for transgressions,
would not torment me
in Hell

I nostalgically remember the days
when my blood was water
then Kool-Aid

and I lived in a glass pitcher
like a turtle inhabiting his shell




*****

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Zeus the Action Hero by JD DeHart

Zeus or Poseidon by G Da


They found him on a far-reaching
casting call. There had been a time
when he would pretend to be a swan.
Pretending to be Stallone sounded
cooler. Lights, camera, action,
and it was all thunder and bolts,
fastidiously signing autographs when
the director yelled cut.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

A Very Small Problem by Richard Manly Heiman

(c) Caters News Agency


When the green bug with a lion-girl face perched on the dean’s wine glass, fluttering its diaphanous wings, I stopped listening to chatter about next year’s Physical Sciences budget and the new chemistry fellowship. I could only hear that whirring sound. Then I saw the dean was just about to take a sip of her chardonnay. I stammered incoherently and she just missed swallowing the thing. When it levitated like a dragonfly and bee-lined straight for my face I shooed it away, violently. 

“You all right, Professor?” asked a grad student. Everyone in our cluster stared at me.

“Umm…fine. Did you see that?”

The only response was a bit of throat clearing and raised eyebrows. The dean turned away and struck up a conversation with a post-doc. Apparently not. I mumbled something about being tired and left shortly after.

A week later insect-girl popped from the showerhead, buzzed around squeaking obscenities, then disappeared out the bathroom window. I dropped the soap, slipped and almost cracked my head on the porcelain tub side.

Another day, snoozing by the pool, something wet hit my face. I bolted upright; nothing but mocking laughter trailing into the bushes…and a green slime ball on my cheek. Next came plaintive cries from the kitchen sink. I turned on the garbage disposal, but only faint giggling echoed up—no screams. Another time—well, you get the idea.

Simultaneously, our chair decided against retirement the week before his party. Nobody advanced, no raises, nada. Then peer review savaged my meticulously researched book. Three years of research for nothing. And just when I hoped to get out from under alimony, the ex-wife canceled her nuptials with the surgeon. Coincidence? That these things happen every time that mini-monstrosity appears?

But how to kill what shouldn’t exist in the first place? My brilliant water bucket trap mysteriously collapsed—more derision from it. Filling the birdbath with Karo failed, though I snagged every fly and moth in town. The cherry bomb down the bathtub drain? Bad call, big repair bill. If I could just lure the hellion into the microwave...

Then finally – a brainstorm. Meet Bilbo, my quasi-legal ocelot and Sadie, my peregrine. And if they can’t get the job done, well, I’ve got a recipe for mustard gas.

*****

Richard Manly Heiman lives in the pines on the slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as a substitute teacher and writes when the kids are at recess. Richard's work has appeared or will in Rattle, Into the Void, Bop Dead City and elsewhere. He is a two time 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. His URL is poetrick.com.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Shift by Allison Grayhurst



Everywhere I'm looking I meet
the eye of the wall and still I know
I have five fingers to count
and the chance of discovering any colour
other than the ones I'm seeing.
For me, it is tears without compensation
that make me break and smoke the city.
For me, on the subway, in time
hurting and heaving and pulling apart my nest
is the end before the start, before the barrier breaks
and all that remains is the choice of glory
or ultimate slumber.

*****

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1000 poems published in over 410 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

a process of transfer by Mark Young



According to the Global
Innovation Index, Blaise
Pascal, a football player from
Côte d'Ivoire, has, by bor-
rowing a foreign syntax &
utilizing mimetic translation
practices, devised a multi-
disciplinary platform so visceral,

so deeply emotional, that it
renders Baroque drama the most
dangerous of all social &/or artistic
endeavors, even given the brilliant
splendors & alluring vices we
have available to us today.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Mountainous by JD De Hart

Double arc-en-ciel sur Le Reposoir by Nestorrefacteur

My friend told me the story
of the Mountain. That was
a nickname, but his real
name did have two Ms in it,
which was fortunate.
One in the first, one in the last.
These letters he decorated
with snow caps when he signed
his name on school papers.
Whatever happened to the Mountain?
My friend did not know, but did
not recall seeing him at graduation.
Do mountains migrate?
One hopes this mountain has not eroded,
merely settling for being a hillside,
but has continued to grow tall.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Long Before Isis by Donal Mahoney

Warm by Nuural Qudus


Thirty years ago, long before ISIS started executing Kurds, Muslims and Christians, I hired a Pakistani Muslim as an art director in Chicago. I was an Irish Catholic editor putting out a small national magazine. I hired him because his work samples were good and he had worked for the United States embassy in Pakistan for more than a decade. The embassy facilitated his emigration to America. It didn’t hurt that he had seven children and I had five. I too knew the misery of being out of work with a family.

Different as we were, Mohammed and I were also much alike. Deadlines and details were important to both of us. Other than the two of us, the staff was female. It helped on occasion to have another man around the office.

After a few years Mohammed invited my wife and me to dinner. His wife put out a big feast of Pakistani food, dishes we had never had. We also had never had Indian food and we know now there are certain similarities between the two cuisines although I remember to this day that a staple dish like biryani was moist in the Pakistani style and not dry as I have experienced it to be in so many Indian restaurants in America. I have no problem with either version but personally prefer a moist biryani. 

My wife and I knew very little about Pakistani culture and Islam on our arrival for the dinner. This showed when I shook hands with his wife, something I found out later to be a no-no although our hosts said nothing and his wife shook hands like an expert. I also engaged her in informal conversation during dinner which again is something of a no-no but she seemed delighted to respond in kind. 

And I probably made a big mistake asking her about a famous Pakistani poet alleged to be a drunk. Mohammed had previously denied this allegation as a complete falsehood. But his wife assured me the poet was indeed a drunk and seemed to disapprove of liquor in general since most Muslims, I believe, do not drink liquor, never mind to excess.

When his wife confirmed the poet was a drunk, I just happened to see Mohammed look down at his empty plate. He rubbed his forehead for a minute and then managed a slight smile. He knew that I did not know any better about carrying on a conversation like this and he loved his wife. It may or may not have been the first time she had engaged an American in an informal way. She was a terrific cook and certainly knew her Pakistani poets, much to the momentary distress of her husband.

Maybe a month later or so, the subject of religion came up at work. Mohammed told me he was sponsoring a cousin to emigrate from Pakistan and they were not close friends, simply kin, and he was obliged to do it. Apparently his cousin was a Sunni Muslim and Mohammed was a member of the Shia branch and the two branches do not get along when it comes to their theology. 

It was just Mohammed and I talking at that time while laying out an issue of the magazine. I can’t recall precisely what areas we covered but we did not get very deep into the vast differences in theology between Islam and Christianity. I may have asked him questions about his faith but I don’t recall that he had any curiosity about mine. But since I had asked for clarification about certain points in Islam, he wanted to make certain I understood what the facts were. I appreciated that and then somewhat facetiously said all was well as long as he didn’t try to convert me.

He paused for a moment and said, “You be a good Catholic and I’ll be a good Muslim.” I knew already that he was certainly a good Muslim. I also knew at that time I had a ways to go to qualify as a good Catholic.

All this took place as I said 30 years ago when there was no ISIS and I don’t recall any simmering conflict at the time between Islam and Christianity. I knew that neither side had forgotten about the Crusades but by and large the Crusades were at most an unfortunate fact of history for Catholics. I did not realize that certain Muslims still burned quite hot about the Crusades and had other resentments against the West and wanted to avenge the injustices they thought had been visited upon them. 

I am happy that Mohammad is still alive despite the fact that we are both long of tooth. I found his phone number today through Google. I saw his picture as well. He still lives in a suburb of Chicago but the picture must have been taken at a religious event because he was dressed in a black robe and black hat not unlike the garments worn  by imams addressing the faithful on the evening news. Needless to say his appearance disturbed me. 

I still might call Mohammad but if I do, it wouldn’t bother me if his wife answered the phone. It’s been 30 years but I think I’d ask her if she can tell me the surname of that drunken Pakistani poet since I remember only his given name and can’t find him so far on Google. And then maybe I’d have the guts to ask if Mohammed was home. If he was, maybe I’d ask him what is going on in the world today, from his point of view, because people like me don’t understand it. I imagine it would be a long conversation. Thank goodness there are no long distance charges on my wife’s cellphone.

*****

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had work published in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter and other magazines. Some of his online work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Les diables de François Ibanez

Waning Moon by Ralph Combs


Les diables et les lunes
La pluie grise
Les diables pénètrent la vie
Des lames de glaces et de feu
Et des larmes

Les consistances stationnaires
Révulsent et creusent nos rides
Anciennes et calmes
Les diables irriguent d'un sang chaud
Violet et répudient les étoiles sommaires

D'un regard ils foudroient
L'apparence du monde
En fait le chaos irrémédiable
Le chaos sous la lune
Le chaos fait de braise ardente
Les diables hurlent dans le noir

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Illustrated Man Person by Mark Young

& considered. Where to start.
Where to end. What to be. Call
me Queequeg? Start at the fore-
head? Fill it in or put a title there,
the chapter heading? The chin?
Remembered Ta moko, had seen
the death of it when young,
old ladies sitting on the kerb

waiting for the bus to Waitara's
Manukorihi Pā, green markings
moving with their mouths. Had left
the country before its resurrection,
part of the twin-tongue reformation.
Using the chin would give that aspect
strength, but continuity lost in the
hidden contours of the throat. The

neck? Too many prison tats, tearing
along the dotted line. The chest? But
only if a play, the curtains opening.
But only if the final scene, or curtain
call, everyone on stage. & how to lay
it out? As newspaper, columnar, or
else a book, straight-down, verso,
recto, the arms appendices or table of

contents & an index. Dead Egyptian,
ungrateful, right round & keep on
keeping down, or variant helix, single.
Or doubled, entwined, defining who
you are. Or who might like to be. Ideal
is Möbius Strip. Reading the message
within the eyes each other time you
pass. Alternate. Reading without them.


*****


Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. His most recent books are Ley Lines, from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York. 

He also has two chapbooks in the Moria Books Locofo Chaps political poetry series — "100 chaps in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency."  

Monday, 13 February 2017

Life in the Air by J.D. DeHart



Of course, it did not start out this way. I was a tender shoot, what you might call a really solid branch. Three times, birds built a nest on me. I grew so monumental, I even had a kid try to stand on me. He fell and knocked the wind out of himself, but just the same. These are the kind of bragging rights not all of us have.

Imagine my surprise and reluctance when I felt myself joining the earth. Three, maybe four, villagers swooped around me and separated my form, along with many others, from the trunk. I really miss being part of that trunk.

They pared me down, sliding a blade to smooth my surface, and then whittled even further. They are trying to pick their teeth, I thought. I imagined myself being forced against enamel and pink, diseased gum, prying free pieces of beef. Not the kind of life plan I had in place, if you know what I mean.

So, you can probably guess the rest. What you might not know is that, in history, the warrior is given the medal. The mode of victory is often an afterthought, and by that I mean the weapon of choice. If it is the first time that weapon is used, sure.

We know that the Chinese invented gunpowder, and it is also thought that the crossbow originated in ancient Asia – the bronze triggers. It is easy to find out that the term “grenade” goes back to the 1500’s.

Nevertheless, I was consumed with flame and then launched through the air. I felt the exhilaration of the wind increasing my heat. I would love to say I found my home in some screaming warlord or the Great Scumbag of the Universe (whoever that may be). I ultimately found my home, deflected from metal and then landing in some straw. The straw, of course, caught the flame, and the flame caused the smoke, which allowed the enemy army to be overpowered.

But sure, sure, give credit to the general. Let’s see him light up and go flying.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My Parents Were Illegal Irish Immigrants in the United States by Donal Mahoney

Joseph Francis O'Mahony, first row, third from left, circa 1920, age 16, all dressed up and looking older than 16 as a prisoner of the English on Spike Island a few years before he emigrated to the United States. There he became a citizen and the judge told him to change his name to Mahoney, a decision he would bemoan like a banshee for years. Permission to use this photo has been obtained from the Waterford County Museum in Ireland.


In 1920, my father, 16, was a guest of the British government. He was a prisoner of their forces occupying Ireland at the time, a group called the Black and Tans.

One day he and seven other prisoners were brought out of their makeshift cells to dig their own graves in a small walled compound. As tradition would have it, they would be shot into their graves and other prisoners would be brought out to bury them.

By prearranged signal, the eight men dropped their shovels and broke for the wall. Bullets stopped five of them but the other three climbed over the wall and made it through the rural Irish countryside to freedom. One of the escapees eventually went to Australia, another to Canada. My father made it to America.

The story doesn’t end there, of course, and he only told it once. But even if you were only in eighth grade, as I was at the time, it’s not a story you forget.

Ironically, his first job in America was digging graves in New Jersey. Then he boxed professionally in New York and sang in Irish nightclubs. He never drank. He was an odd fellow in that respect and perhaps in some others as well.

After another boxer broke his nose he stopped fighting and emigrated from New York, this time to Chicago, where without skills or experience he was hired by the Commonwealth Edison Company. He spent 35 years there as an electrical lineman who specialized as a troubleshooter called out during big storms whenever they occurred anywhere in the State of Illinois. He had to retire earlier than he would have liked after absorbing 12,000 volts of electricity trying to save a rookie he was training from touching the hot wire that got him.

At some point Joseph Francis O’Mahony, a native of Ballyheigue, County Kerry, met and married my mother, Mary Therese Roche, an illegal immigrant from Togher, Cork. She arrived in 1926 or so, got off the boat and found herself, for reasons she could never recall, in the middle of Harlem among the first black people she had ever seen. They helped her locate her cousin elsewhere in New York. In time she used her cousin's paperwork to find jobs cleaning the houses of others who could afford to hire her.

My father, apparently illegal as well, didn’t stop for documentation, perhaps because the Black and Tans might have delayed his trip had they found him.

My mother was reared in rural Ireland with eight siblings in a thatched-roof cottage in the middle of a cabbage field. An English landlord owned the field.

My mother didn’t know she needed papers to come to America. She had just grown weary of harvesting cabbage and thought she might try her luck in America. Apparently she had no problem getting on the boat.

These two illegal immigrants had a good if not perfect life in Chicago compared with the life they might have had if they had remained in Ireland.

My father earned good money as an electrician and saved a lot of it to make it possible for his son to earn two degrees. He and my mother died, however, before seeing their first grandson, Sean Owen Mahoney, win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.

It’s just as well because my father would have been very unhappy to have a grandson studying in England.

Almost as unhappy as he was to learn many years earlier that he had spent all his hard-earned money to send his own son, the author of this piece, to a university and have him come home with two degrees in English, of all things.

Once again my father had proof that life isn’t fair.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

notes by Mark Young



Discovered a chilli plant growing in the back yard. Orange turning to red. A birdseye, high heat. Last year they were growing wild in the front garden. Pulled out the plants. Kept the fruit. The freezer contains a ziplok bag full of them. A little chilli goes a long way.

Two rainbow bee-eaters on a branch. A member of the kingfisher family but very different in colour, in contour of beak. Still, they have that kingfisher / kookaburra feel about them.

I am waiting for the electrician & the plumber to come. Maybe I can ring up a mechanic, say the car has broken down, & hold a trade convention.

Break off reading Ed Sanders' Tales of Beatnik Glory – a little of that goes a long way too — & start reading a Val McDermid novel, The Torment of Others, one of the series of Tony Hill / Carol Jordan mysteries. I enjoyed the BBC TV series but the books are blacker, more graphic, & I'm enjoying them more. What does that say about me? The title of this one comes from a quote by he whom Paul Blackburn called the preacher, T.S.E., tse-tse fly, from The Dry Salvages.

I bring in the washing. It starts to rain. Now there's a change in the normal order of things.

My legs ache. Age. Arthritis. My left kneecap clacks like Philly Joe Jones in behind Miles Davis. So What perhaps. I run the Cannonball Adderley solo through my mind. It helps, but it doesn't hide the pain. Aspirin works better, though it hasn't the same rhythm. Or the phrasing.

Am assuming birds broadcast the chilli seed, but how can they stand the heat, not that they're ever in the kitchen. Though, reading about the bee-eaters, I learn that they render the sting harmless & kill the bee before swallowing it. Maybe birds render chillies harmless with a garnish of ice-cold water.

That reminds me. I take some soluble aspirin, in a glass of warm water to make the tablets dissolve faster. The plumber arrives. & goes fifteen minutes after. Paid by the hour. My kneecap still clicks but the ache has gone. I make lunch. Afterwards go outside. Click. Now that I am aware of it, my eye is automatically drawn to the orange of the chilli amongst the brown & green & purple of the garden. Click. The bee-eaters have gone. The electrician is still to show.

*****

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. He is the author of over thirty-five books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore & Ley Lines, both from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago.