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Manfred Mann

By Dennis Mahagin

I love the Chopsticks part in “Blinded by the Light,”
one funky break, disguised as mistake, it makes a
great song sound better. Hear it in my head as I try
to write. Especially near the end, when they sing
lines in the round, I want to air-drum, hang, create
cover version, believing each day is mine, a new
phrase taking off, “another runner in the night…”
In this world of fake books, Eskimos, sheer unkind
and minefield, strobe light, they come at you
with calliopes in lieu of insight, same sonic tribulations
of Job, tone deaf, beaten down; and when you finally get
the hang, might wish to sing along … but it’s too late
to catch a second song, gone, gone; ripped up
the charts, breaks the heart like a bell, but Manfred, oh
man, something keeps putting it to me, religiously
bluesy keyboard patch, in vapors, in pieces,
a dream’s imperfection could never know what
it means the thing I see before going blind, pure
puddle, overcast, upside down sky and do I stomp
and buck and risk a splash? there “where the fun is”
the world is a cover, and it’s playing too fast.

Multiple Poems

By Jeremiah Walton

Being human is alright. Never been anything else
There’s a phantom limb in this poem. I hope that says something
Psychologists have been executed by refusal
and fear.
I’m feeling a pain
that I ignore(d)
released from the mouths
attatched to my ribcage.

There is more
than the oyster shell city
I’m looking for pearls in.

Life is full of
shit booze and dirt
beautiful woman and
cars, skateboards
and knives. Dead friends
and dying friends. Heart squeels
and drunk passion, the only
passion I can evoke.

like being on an open mic and not knowing what to do with your hands
like groundings to small children

Being human is alright,
though I think I may
be a little odd. Find justification
for weird kids weirding weird kids out
and move on.

The phantom limb
is in this poem
somewhere. Keep
looking.

Four Myths

By Robert Vaughan

Myth One

Against the fog he was a big man. Against the fire tower he stood out like Paul Bunyon. And there were a great many folks who respected him: firefighter, crusader, bowler of the year. Award-winning spelunker. But we’re his other family. Who would have even known? Not me, not my sister. I try not to remember. I try to tamper down the stink.

Myth Two

Somebody said she did it for kicks. Another said it was all for attention. I thought it was pretty stupid. Christmas day. Hovering over a fence along a country road? Wearing just a gauzy slip? A surefire way to end up in the loony- bin where Aunt Tina is a lifelong resident. My sister has done some fairly idiotic things, and this was just another in the line of icy dumbass dumb-ness.

Myth Three

Let’s play marco polo she said. I’m unsure you can do that in the ocean. The roar of the waves, the salt in your ears. The leadbelly bottom and sandy rewards. I said let’s disappear into the surf, dissolve into foamy crests, creammate our desires into damp, fertile depths. {hold our breaths forever, in unison}.

Myth Four

Another small town filled with cheer. You couldn’t miss the liquor sign. Tallest sign in the county, higher than any billboard, larger than every building. Lit up at night, like my daddy was, mostly. Sometimes, the ‘q’ and the ‘u’ would flicker off, and the rest of the word, ‘lior’ reminded me of what I did after he touched me.

Barbie Survived

By A.J. Huffman

the apocalypse, along with the Twinkies and
cockroaches. A little worse for wear, her clothes
hang ragged, her skin is melted in patches
and she has this bizarre urge to brunch
on brains. The remnants of last week’s paper
exclaims that zombies are suddenly in fashion, and she
always was good at savaging malls . . .

screenplays for a compulsion

By Peter Marra

an audience noticed the birth and the splices
as funny as her brain
as amusing as the trials that she lives for

a one-handed scream
like they taught in the criminal schools
with lessons of using your eyes
with lessons of telling lies for fucking

you’re a camera
and you should walk away from the manifesto
her pitch black eyes fight it’s
a spectacle descending
you’ve given me “film grammar”

she responded to maintain a want
happy to realize that the sun was none
but out there were such slick sounds
sucking up the silence
splicing faces
intercut sounds
literally translated, as a pedestal burning
choosing obscurity

she folded up the tripod and went away
on the next train
to the next town
“i screamed with me,” she said
she relaxed

“wow, the bodies really heaved up
it’s a natural color for america
eschewing bourgeois concerns.
he pulls out, what’s going on?”

she grabbed it, interpretations of
conceptual films
by a would-be film director
a prisoner of stop-motion

as she snorted and spewed forth pain
they spoke of camera positions from1894
as the breathing increased at a faster rate,

the arms have been removed
dusty springfield had an answer
blonde redemption behind the cracked building

a flickerfree duplex
a patent leather shrine to the home of her childhood
wanting to display her legs,
she lifted her skirt to the breeze
exposed her lips in a swirl
and celebrated by herself
by dreaming of her new tattoo
and a subsequent brand
that she would receive soon
by herself for herself
it was small for a commercial film theater

The Box

By Colin Lichen

His dreams produce a muffled rattle,
trapped in a French ratpack box that
John Major (‘not the First Minister’) gave him
in thanks for some words that might have saved his life:
a compass indicating the right direction
only occasionally; him happy
to follow without correction;
a packet that would make tea the colour of gravy,
though few ever did, its flavour not dissimilar;
a toilet-tissue totaliser; a catapult (broken),
and a white plastic spoonman – welded with Zippo
over supper (don’t ask), and hand-patterned packets
wherein once lay 7.62mm diameter confirmations
of whether or not one’s god was real (none of them were).

And of course the Tocat.
The lifesaving, death-dealing Tocat.

Pretty much everything ends up in a box.

Heartache

By Anne Champion

She makes her debut at night, smashing
your windows with a paper machete
and a glass chainsaw, punching her fist
through hollow walls, squatting
on your landscape and taking a piss
while she does a few histrionic Hail Marys,
rolling her eyes in mockery at your wishes
and prayers and pleasant dreams. This,
she says, motioning to your entire life,
is all prop. She skips beside you
and giddily flings bags of garbage
across your path like an over-rehearsed
flower girl. Dreams are theatre, but her stench
is real and pervasive; you yearn
for a bath or a baptism. She instructs you
to sit your silly self down for her tap dance
and song. An emerald gemstoned gypsy,
delivering a prophesy: there’s more clouds
in this crystal ball. She dons a mask of his face,
trots around you like a marionette
until you become knotted
in her strings, his strings, his strings, around
she twirls and you know this routine
is all about him, has always been about him,
you can’t escape him. Even when the lights
dim, and you jolt awake, her encore
is the empty spot next to you in bed.
All day you try to forget her final lines
before the curtains of your eyelids lifted:
Hearts have no roots, she sighs,
they flake away, easy as petals.

By David S. Pointer

Chicago Red became Fred Sanford
finally Redd Foxx on the other end
of my MP radio call
pub management at the Chesty Puller
club feared for the comedian’s safety

as Redd honed in on a stageside audience
member-spitting him out like clown candy
tongue holding the man down better than
yard tool tongs at a shooting gallery as the
other audience Marines spewed up laughter

ole Redd burning on like a bulldog ashtray

American Poetics

By Daniel Gillespie

All traffic lights are Chinese art thru the last of my retina –
and I am not offended, I am concentrated into the single atom
of a red dot where I have climbed the tower of our modern erotic air
and screamed out loud – virginal, black-faced,
and public for exposure – I am all American and the richest man
I have ever seen this naked, this abused and unrecognized – I have become a part
of the republic by my own choosing!
And I am as sane as anyone I know and I feel alone
as if paint were dripping off the tips of my fingers, from the tip
of my nose – phallus and flower – colors of terror and innocence
cover me until I cannot walk or breathe or refuse to vote for freedom –
but I will never be a martyr, and I will never roll my hair up or drink Champagne
or call myself an artist – I will never walk thru Wal-Mart again on my own,
the help of a thousand voices must lift me up, a million energies,
and countless dollars, rolled, crumbled and thrown to the floor – then I will bath
in the electricity of that foreign market with foreign languages grabbing
at my sense of worth, at my unborn heritage rolling down the grassy hills
of burnt flags to the peep show booth of another generation
under that smooth atomic bubble of breast, flashing the fire on and off
until we are all blind and newborn, groping our way to retirement
and impotency, to a cashless sex of pure meaning and form
where the inner room of religious experience sees me,
the poet, walking among the buyers like a giant mirror
waiting for the mind to cave in without escape.

Good Night

By Brenton Booth

The final words before
midnight,
the hand burning in the
salad bowl,
the atomic cufflink at the
bottom of the drawer,
the black cat reciting
sonnets on the edge of a
tin cup,
the once, again, & never
again,
the clouds that disguise
the tumbling skies,
the eyes that can barely
see,
the vehicle that is long
overdue for slumber
like me now;
hope you had a nice day—
good night.