Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Crush of the Moon”, “Dead Candles”, “Respite”

The Crush of the Moon

Every night she appears
Above me
From her position of nowhere
To her position of somewhere
From behind the magic of a cloud
And I look despondently at her
From my perch at the window,
Drunk on the melodies of music
And embers of light in the darkness

And she looks down at me
With a bored but petulant rage,
Flicking me with a powerful finger
To put me in my place
And knock me down
Just as I am rising

Every night I corkscrew deeper
Into the sameness madness
Of a love that is wan,
That is not tender,
Crushed between the fingers of the moon
And floating further out
Each evening
Into the vast useless discomposure
Of a promiseless
Tomorrow
And the next

Holding on inside to the very things
That have cast me
Into the void

Dead Candles

The smell of matches lit in vain
For candles whose long wicks remain
But are irresolutely soaked in the tears
Of ghosts who never lived here
But in a place I was banned
That I imagine I would see in my dreams
If I still had dreams.

Respite

Even when I close my eyes
I cannot get much rest.
Still. Still.
After all these years,
living more than half a life
in fear and obscurity –
I will not, cannot relax.
The poetic term would be Respite.
No respite for me.

Perhaps it’s because I have words missing
as if chunks of memory deleted.
Faith. Bravery. Trust.
I search for those words
and when I find them
I break them open,
only to find their shells empty.
Standing on the beauty of a silvery sand,
held up by trillions of kernels,
tiny and abrasive individually
and all I can feel is alone,
exhausted, unable.
No respite for me.

When the water laps up to me,
I retreat.
No matter how good it feels,
I back away.
No respite for me.

After all these years
and all that’s happened
I’m still afraid to stand 
at the open window
unless the shades are drawn.
I close my eyes,
the lids shutting abrasively.
The breeze is there
but the shade absorbs it.
It doesn’t matter 
if it’s dark or light out there.
I’m naked and afraid,
my skin untouched.
No respite for me. 

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.


Two Dark Poems by David Arroyo

At the Dinner Table–Dusk

“To wake , and hear a cock
out of the distance crying”
— Dawn, Philip Larkin 

To eat and hear a scream.
To rise and peer through a foggy window
To lose and loose the self to a waking dream 
and feel behind you the Shadowman grow.
How normal it is 
for muscles to freeze and eyes choke on the mind’s conspiracy.

Witness

The mind let unwind with a whip
A Cat-Of-Nine made of neurons 
Flailed at grey matter with barbed tips. 
Made him stiff, slobbering like a moron.  

In these hallucinations he could not escape
though he knew the machines weren’t real 
Knowing is not enough when grinding pain
tenderizes and you’re the entree, grilled veal. 

Whatever gnawed at his inner thigh
percolated through his skin 
always at his periphery, out of sight
not mind, his sanity worn thin. 

His wife, paralyzed, drooling, stared wide-eyed,
bed bound, binging his dream, with each bite she died.

David Arroyo is a nerd and ex-catholic. His Dungeons & Dragons alignment is Neutral Good.  He holds an MA in English from Florida State University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast. He’s published poetry in Club Plum,  Stirring, Silver Blade, Burning Word, and Abyss & Apex, and most recently in Coffin Bell and Nocturne. His Twitter handle is StarSmashrX.


Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Moon, Shine On

It's one of those nights
when the moon slips free
of the clouds;
one of those nights
when the wind blows free,
unleashed from the upstarting
contours of the land,
sweeping, rushing across
the wastes of
the immortal boundless sea,
finally arriving 
aimless and energetic 
at some newfound destination.

Moonlight shines
across the long bays,
in which great brother waves
press on
under the moon's bright face,
bright as death's scythe,
press on roaring
until they come to rest,
flat and quiet,
on the moonlit shore.

Heroes young and old
held vigil
on nights like these;
memories of the god-feasts,
the dark woods, the sacred tree
dim and nearly gone now.

In those days witches
could doctor the dark,
pull down the moon
if they had to;
fearful Nicias,
famed Athenian
sent to war in Sicily
didn't need a moon
sunk to earth,
heeded instead
the omen of
a technicolor moon,
dimming to naught;
waited, waited, 
too long hesitating, then
at the wrong time retreating,
led his army to its doom.

But gracious fellow-travelers,
lovers of the glory that was,
these days 
it's the self-same moon,
stripped of portents,
floats over Cuba,
floating over Miami, too,
over a moon-startled girl
feeling her boy
bent over her,
passionate in her,
starting his 
rhapsody of movement.

Overhead, in the heavens,
embarrassed constellations
look off in all directions,
seeing all, and not wanting to see,
goosed, tormented, 
by an expanding universe
sending them on their way
and down below,
by the light of
the silent indifferent moon
a boy and a girl
coming together
in a paratactical now,
in a perfection of now
and no wild Nicias moon
turning red, blue and sallow
to spoil the moment
with foreboding,
to slow or speed
the whole shebang
from measured order 
to some desperate fatal mistake. 

A.U.C.

There is that in God
which is not gaud
                           feeding the chickens
Honorius muttered in Latin,
not brooking a report
that Rome
                    had
how you say?
                            had been
like a chicken
                            its neck wrung.

Jesus, the beautiful faces,
Vestals,
the villas where Sallust
the beautiful noble stones
the shithouses, aqueducts, roads
          ROME DEAD?
but she fed the world 
      a long time
                          fed
a line of law
and reason

Respect:
Lars Porsenna
and the bloody emperors
hairy Vandals
                      Alaric alert
Neal
All honor
her hills, her people,
her purple
covered the steppes,
commanded 
the western isles.

In the ruins of Rome,
in Illyria, in Britain,
bitter winter brings down
heaven’s wrath;
hailstones spatter 
like pennies,
clattering on bronze
and marble alike.

We will not see Hadrian
again rebuilding the walls.

Dulce Domum

You can’t hide your hideway
when beggars come calling;
every haven has its day,
every port and refuge;
the cold tomorrows
come out of the distance
like icebergs,
unstable as emperors, 
demanding as children

and food for thought 
feeds no one.
Your secret place, your kingly manse?
Don’t board up all the doors,
your earthly paradise 
has a few snakes inside

and minstrels and other rabble
wait outside
to knock down all.

You alone unhidden
unbidden stand
prominent as a sequoia,
Simon of the stele.
Revelation is God’s alone;
hidden in the deep,
his submarine love
discovers all secret places;
you are naked as 
a jaybird in his sight.

So cast it all away,
armed in your own flesh
go voyaging.
Surrender is a place
impregnable and portable
as heaven. 

Elba

Napoleon,
shake your iron off;
invincible, able
on Elba
you were mourning
ere you saw
the glory of the days
coming and the days
twisted up, by-
gone.

Dearth

Blonde she was
on the boulevard,
in moonlight,
in crescent of
moon-grin;
golden hairs
white as Lear’s
under moonlight;
the old power
coming easy as
Paris faring
through the
Dardanelles. 

The moon, flat
as a cookie,
sails higher;
wreaths of smoke
lie fallow in space.

But blonde on a
bicycle goes fast
and quiet;
the ripple of her
passing disturbs 
all of us,
wandering on
the foreshore
of no adventure.

Home, Palinurus;
turn the rudder
and home.
No blondes heave to
in the moonlight;
your bed, empty
and wide
as a car,
awaits you.


A.U.C  was published 14 years ago in Poetry Bay, Dulce Domum in 2017 in Pif Magazine, Elba several years ago in Zombie Logic Review, and Dearth in Duane’s Poetree. Moon has never been published.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.


Three Dark Poems by Toshihisa Nikaido

Sticks Beneath the Trees

As I gather the sticks beneath the trees
          A gust of wind causes the branches to sway
          Colder than a midwinter’s storm
Finding shelter under the trunks
 
         A gust of wind causes the branches to sway
I’ve found warmth where I may rest
Finding shelter under the trunks
         Allowing me to finally say goodnight
 
I’ve found warmth where I may rest
          Colder than a midwinter’s storm
          Allowing me to finally say goodnight
As I gather the sticks beneath the trees

The Bard

A strike of my shovel reveals a crypt,
          Through which awaits a new conflict.
                   The grounds below I cannot predict,
                             Even when I’ve become well equipped.
                                       Laws down here have left me bound;
                                                  To these deathly tunes, I am constrict.

Dracula’s Reflection

When he looks into the mirror,
          His expression falls unfamiliar;
A frown breaks through his charisma,
          Puzzled evermore by this enigma.
 
Now, whom does he see here,
          When he looks into the mirror?
He cannot find his face so grim,
          Only what was left behind him.
 
His heart is filled with devotion,
          And yet each time he sees no one,
When he looks into the mirror;
          Still wishing he could be near her.
 
Once seeing from the tower of an aristocrat,
          Now fallen into darkness and blind as a bat;
Yet the truth could not be clearer,
          When he looks into the mirror.



Toshihisa Nikaido has worked on popular video game series such as Resident Evil, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda. Toshihisa more recently joined Japan’s space exploration agency for a new challenge while using various forms of writing as a creative outlet and has since been published in several literary journals.


“The Death Walk Trilogy” Three Dark Poems by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Last of the Sun

Last of the sun highlighting the clarity of day
Now the shadows spawn and spread
 
Quiet
Almost unseen
 
She walks in a different mood
Her dress falling to the floor like a quilt of flowers
 
I can’t help myself but watch
Hypnotized
 
The whole house dark but lit with her glow
The outside world reduced to strangers
 
The slow dance of her night fulfilling
Capturing my haunted soul.

The Gulf

There is no sleep when she is beside you
The bed cradles her like a pearl
 
You stare as she sleeps
Her dreams not yours
 
You can still taste her sweetness
For she is your drug
 
You would steal for her
Kill for her
 
But she would not want you to
 
And the night takes her out to the sea
Where she walks on water
 
And you cannot follow.

Dark Man

There is some sickness keeping me from you
I’ve always had it since birth
 
You have been healed by your beliefs
I question everything
 
Trusting nothing
Or myself
 
I dwell in my own darkness
My own doings
 
Quick now
Run away from me
 
Before the wind blows through your hair
Before the sun uplifts your face
Casting me down
To your feet
Where I belong
Crawling through the sand like a snake
 
But somehow I sense
You will take me in
Giving me a spot of light.

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write poetry and draw unusual works of art.  He can be found on Twitter @papapoet.


Four Dark Poems by Donna Dallas

The Reunion

I
Girl 
I did not want you 
to wrap cell around cell 
vein loop through artery 
muscle form and flex 
to stretch my stomach out 
I thought there was a monster
inside me 
and there was…

I carried your heavy load 
for over twenty years
finally said fuck it 
I’m done with your addictions 
your bloated belligerence from birth 

I closed the door 
at that moment felt only freedom
not realizing this umbilical cord 
still fresh and slick 
with its own aliveness
later dread
then decay 
as the door shut for good…or so I thought
at the end I wrapped myself in that damn cord 
cuddled with it

II
Mother
had I known in my dumbass youth
you needed to seek your true calling
and if I could have cared for and fed myself
it would have worked out between us 

Instead I tried to hide
in my cell sac
watch you wild with pain
you’d hear me coo and giggle
then realize I needed attending

I sought only the sweetness
of what I believed 
the band-aid to my bruises
if you knew I was falling 
you waited for my collapse
into your release

Here we meet at the gates 
do not know one another at all really
yet I smell the stench of my cord
entwined in your fingers

Day Breaker

In a capsule I ride the earth
seek star-borns and sayers 
to heel me
I fold into a bowl
of witchery 
wait as the forest beckons
the leaves curl into my fingers
fall off as I point blame
I’ve no dolls left to burn
in my cauldron of wonder 
mixed with bourbon
I spit out fire
speak in tongues

If they understood
my piercing blister
that rots under
my many hearts……
I could roll myself under this pot
hide forever with my bottle
yet I still seek the sunny
drip that IV’s
me into this shell I live under

Post Re-Boot

This body has hardened into a pit 
left over from rotted fruit the meat of it 

disintegrated and not to get too cliché 
I keep replanting – restarting – refreshing – re-re-re

regrowth – rebloom I can re myself into oblivion
tear at my eyes and form a hollow so deep it comes out

the other side around and around I want this yes
I do – to reboot but I can’t get footed into a place it all

feels so narrow I’m hanging over with so much of me 
exposed I’m a target for hairy torn vultures to pick at

they tend to loosen my parts send pieces of me here
and there I can re-connect them yet it’s always difficult

to reconfigure myself but I’m not re-ing anymore
one last re-roll to my end

Sky Ticket

Shy moon
baby moon
the weakest root in the sky
that just won’t take 
to the night soil
turn my back
it’s grown into a thick vine

Full-face moon
touch my sleeve
mesmerized
golden bowl of glow
your vine creeps around
the tree trunk
eases up the branch
secures its front-seat view
to our night rhapsody

Ms. Dallas notes: “I studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at NYU’s Gallatin School and was lucky enough to study under William Packard, founder and editor of the New York Quarterly.  Lately, I am found in Horror Sleaze Trash, Beatnik Cowboy and The Opiate among many other publications. I recently published my first novel, Death Sisters, with Alien Buddha Press. My first chapbook, Smoke & Mirrors, will launch this fall with New York Quarterly. I currently serve on the editorial team for Red Fez and New York Quarterly.”


“Cleanse” Dark Poetry by Nancy Byrne Iannucci

I will summon Satan
to the center of my damaged self
that clings cold to me.
His horns will rise 
like a forklift and rake it 
away with you.

There are a multitude of mannequins
weathering in windows waiting 
to take my perdition.
He’ll devour their torsos and limbs,
make it snow fiberglass bones

down His belly like the slob
Giotto painted in Padua.
Think of the pleasure 
I’ll have to never see you drink again,
after this co-dependency slips down the shoot
towards hell right into His dirty mouth.

What will be left is me,
myself again, without you,
ready to begin again, 
sick, sick of me with you,
So sick I’ve become
that I’ve asked Satan to come
and cleanse me from you.


Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018) and Goblin Fruit (Impspired 2021). Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Autumn Sky Poetry, Gargoyle, Bending Genres, Clementine UnboundDodging the Rain8 PoemsGlass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist)Hobo Camp Review, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy is a Long Island, NY native who now resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School. Web: https://www.nancybyrneiannucci.com/


“Final Account” Dark Poetry by Will Griffith

Don’t search just yet
for the buried trowel,
forgotten in a line 
of Ryecroft Purple
(between Myatt’s Ashleaf
and Ninetyfold).

Let it dream untroubled dreams
of Russet and Yukon Gold
guided through 
shallow channels
by unsentimental hands.

Galaxies of seasoned earth
it birthed in its time -
star dust wrought by bronze blade -
knowing times of late spring frost,
corners of uncomplicated soil.

A darker patch, barren,
slumps beside espalier pears.
Unloved by hand or trowel,
melancholic, like an oboe unravelling
the stout weave of a Brandenburg.

Beyond, a gardener’s tabby
snoozes in the Kennebecs.
X marks the spot 
where undiscriminating roots
cradle what once tended them.

Autumn’s brutal fork 
will determine what is still owed
to the old potato trowel
and to ourselves,
caught between fertility
and the gathering cold.

Will Griffith is a secondary school teacher who is new to the craft of writing poetry. He is set to appear in a few forthcoming anthologies (FromOneLine by Konayaashi Studiosand Arcane Love by Spectrum of Thoughts). He has appeared in the online magazine The Organic Poet and writes short pieces regularly on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @BunglerBill.


Three Surreal Poems by Mark Fisher

awakening 

none but dreamers sail
these wine-dark skies
roaming between island worlds
wandering amongst the stars
with some unknown helmsman 
	at the watch 
for dawn in an unending night
amid all the Milky-Way 
	wraiths of ancient ammonites 
lost and undying
within the gravity waves
washing away everything but time
craving a new creation
or perhaps an end of this one
in the belly of some Scylla 
	or Charybdis 
but who can ever decide
to wake from this dream
universal 

look
within 
many eyes
for tragedy 
~~~~~
unassumingly 
is disguised within as hope 
providing a tool to cope
with indifference 
~~~~~
the universe 
throws out, as
time’s sand
gnaws
the bones
of longing, 
covetousness, 
~~~~~
ghosts of ancient myths
drifting against cosmic winds
where darkness itself transcends 
the shining of stars
~~~~~
brief instances
of meaning
lonely
in
all of
an empty
vain universe 
~~~~~
continuing its 
trifling with our brief lives
and meaning itself derives 
hollow equations 
~~~~~
that finally  
everything
we know
isn’t
desolation

listening to the indifferent piping of an unseen flute
as the black stars rise over Aldebaran’s misty spires
and tragedy lingers unassuming, waiting resolute
haunted by pain within the cosmic nebulas’ gyres 

as the black stars rise over Aldebaran’s misty spires
even still echoing with haunted voices speaking lost words
haunted by pain within the cosmic nebulas’ gyres 
and all of the dying worlds crumbling into crystal sherds 

even still echoing with haunted voices speaking lost words
of stranger gods, cold and hard, gnawing on the bones of life
and all of the dying worlds crumbling into crystal sherds 
all of their struggle and clinging earns them naught but despite 

of stranger gods, cold and hard, gnawing on the bones of life
amidst the desolation that remains at the end of time 
all of their struggle and clinging earns them naught but despite 
‘cause even at the end the gods themselves play at pantomime 

amidst the desolation that remains at the end of time 
and tragedy lingers unassuming, waiting resolute
‘cause even at the end the gods themselves play at pantomime 
listening to the indifferent piping of an unseen flute


Mark A. Fisher is a writer, poet, and playwright living in Tehachapi, CA.  His poetry has appeared in: Silver Blade, Penumbra, and many other places. His first chapbook, drifter, is available from Amazon. His poem “there are fossils” came in second in the 2020 Dwarf Stars Speculative Poetry Competition.


Two Dark Poems by Katrenia Busch

The Origin of Baal 
 
Mother of Demonic spirits  
Diabolical powers held—  
For the soule— who then visits  
A foreign world when expelled—  
 
Tossed out from within—  
A demon is said to be bourne—  
The mind— its mirror, a twin  
To thoughts that had warned—  
 
Executioner of will and thought  
Combined and then reflected  
Manifested— when fear is fought  
And the body— is made timid 
The Crow 
  
Mournfully dark, black you are 
As you sat up well—so high 
Perfect as you imitated from afar 
The image held in prophecy 
  
The image that was held 
So close and dear to me 
Was that— of one that spelled 
What was already a known decree 
  
A decree— to which 
You may know— 
“As you may switch— 
Places to show” 
  
That what’s within the darkness known 
Was nothing more than my shadow alone 

Katrenia G. Busch ORCID ID:  0000-0002-7377-4571 and Web of Science Researcher ID AAU-4227-2021is a Journal Reviewer for The American Psychological Association, you can find her on Publons. 

She also serves as a Film Critic for Hollywood Weekly Magazine, a Celebrity Interviewer and writer for Heart of Hollywood Magazine, a Journal Reviewer for the American Psychological Association, as well as a Reviewer for Prospectus: A Literary Offering and has worked as an Editor and journalist. Some of her published works can be found in The Screeched Owl, IO Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Literature Today, Westward Quarterly, Trouvaille Review, Riverrun, Police Writers, Senior Care Quest among others.  


“Laci Peterson Addresses Her Son Connor in the Courtroom” Poetry by Paul David Adkins

            Hello! Good morning!	
I’m—well—
I am how I am. And you?

Don’t ask.

There are beautiful things 
to think about.
Up there’s the sky;
down there, the sea.

We can stay right here,
wherever you want.
We can sleep late, go to bed at midnight:
you tell me.

So, explain your dream.
I heard you crying. Later, you laughed.

Where was I? You had to ask.

I was the sky itself, the water,
the half-moon sickle
sweeping the bay.


 

Paul David Adkins lives in Northern NY. He served in the US Army from 1991-2013. Recently, he earned a MA in Writing and The Oral Tradition from The Graduate Institute, Bethany, CT. He spends his days either counseling soldiers or teaching college students in a NY state correctional facility.


Two Dark Poems by Edilson Ferreira

Nocturnal Refugees

-After ‘Night Hawks’, oil on canvas, 1942, by Edward Hopper-

Night that brings with itself lack of love, 
hesitation on living, even fear, as escaping  
and fleeing from world’s demands. 
Night passing far away from others not long ago, 
paraphrased by so many poets always praising, 
since ancient times, beauty of mutual warmth
and human complicity.
People hidden in a furtive safety of a dull bar,
unable to come out of their shells and share   
some good news, perhaps hidden desires or 
love secrets, yet distrust and uncertainties. 
Yet unable to reach that souls’ communion, 
entire and unique humans’ purpose,
fearful to break supposed barriers, 
walls and fences separating us. 
Where the firmness of our ancestors, never afraid  
to penetrate dangers of dark and haunted nights? 
Where the joy and smiles, where the words that had spoken  
their dreams and drawn their desires? 
Words and desires that built the world they bequeathed us
which we are about to lose, deaf and dumb for its beauties. 
Unhappy and disinterested, we will transfer to our sons 
only aridity and dryness, our aloofness and our despair. 

First published in Young Ravens Literary Review issue 6, summer 2017 issue.

Gloomy Days

My dead, those I loved in life, 
I do not bury them. 
They remain forever unburied, 
at least as long as I can stay alive. 
When I die, they will be buried beside me.
I am sure they know this, knowing also  
I am still counting on their help and support. 
We talk about everything and everyone, 
we laugh, weep, love and hate; 
they rest with me at night and give me strength, 
at the dawn of a new day.  
Every victory of mine, they applaud and rejoice, 
as faithful crowd, that accompanies their team.
Morbid desires, unnatural cravings, some will say. 
But no, it is just great and honest one love, a pure one,  
that understands and consoles me on certain days.
Days full with doubts, shadows and ill feelings, 
those that fate has marked for me, 
which, by sure, I will not be able to avoid.  

Published in Poetry Poetics Pleasure, March 2021. 

Mr. Ferreira, 77 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Widely published in selected international literary journals, he began writing at age 67, after his retirement as a bank employee. Nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2017, his first Poetry Collection, Lonely Sailor, One Hundred Poems, was launched in London, in November of 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com


Three Dark Poems by Fabrice Poussin

In the House of Gray Matter


Inside the termite feast
wooden slats agonize in 
the pedestal of the former fortress.

A shell of clapper boards still attempts
to shield the gooey mass
from infernal storms.

Only one room for the great reception
candle lights and evening gown
and there remains only the gray matter.

It pulsates at an unforgiving beat 
oozing with the last glows of a dream
blind through the cracks of faked windows.

Few thoughts emanate from the dull fire
a spark here pretends to still care
yet it is alien to an existence it once knew.

The walls ache with a constant throb
while the ruby fluid quickly pales
soon it will be darkness in this old head.

Let Her Cry Once More


Staring at a faraway line beyond the surf
having braved the early hour in a light satin
she has walked perhaps a final stroll upon a beloved shore.

Like so many covers of fancy periodicals
she still graces the pages of her wondrous tale
stained by the repeated wounds of her teen days

Broken in bones as she is in soul
the ocean is the receptacle of grand desires
filled with endless torrents of her tears.

Beneath her breast a fire attempts to burst
into an eternal scream through the air
yet she remains silent as her gaze darkens.

Once she only had her chagrin for companion
now she recalls the long hours before dawn
when she could sound a voluptuous cry.

It has been centuries she feels
since she was last able to make a whisper 
but now it is time to accept the embrace of the wave.

Wrapped in the immense shroud of days without sense
she lets herself carried away to the depths
where at least she will repose in safety.

Writing Her In


The pen softly moves across the white
page of unfulfilled dreams
an unfinished tale whispers to the cosmos.

Drawing upon memories others hold
deep within the aching flesh he searches
the ideal perhaps none can fathom. 

A word is born into the velum
a letter of endless curves and thick
edges to the side of the eternal page.

He might be blind to the unruly crowds
as he contemplates a vision carved
on the secret walls of his crumbling days. 

The story at last comes to life
phrases take form above the sterile land
and dance a waltz into tight embrace. 

Revealed in its most simple attire
even if but for a mere instant
he has found the refuge within the creation. 

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


Three Poems by Melody Wang

The Far Room


Look for the overgrown apple-blossom 
archway, paint peeling on rotting wood, 
an unkempt front yard that once held 
quiet buds still eager to face tomorrows.  

Push open the unlocked door, see the owl-faced 
old man half at ease in his easy chair, the faint din 
of the television keeping him company as the same 
smells of leftover lasagna permeate the air once more.  

Cut through piles of old books, water-stained boxes —
relics from a bygone era — then tiptoe down three steps, 
tightly grasp the banister to keep the walls from swallowing
you. Pretend not to notice the curious alabaster eyes of unwilling

ghosts who still herald the whimsy of a golden time 
when the old man's wife with her long brown hair
and dancing doe eyes made the space feel tender, cozy
and so far from the cluttered, dusty prison it is now. 

Make your way to that corner you know so well, close your eyes 
and try to ignore the sudden dried rose scent permeating the room — 
the favorite perfume of his dead wife. Linger in the stillness of a breath 
held like a tiny bird before making your way back to the other side. 
Empty Tenements


We were the mutual acquaintances
of the one unable to forget our perilous 
paths, who chided and chastised us
as the unknowing often do.
 
You still reeked of the darkest point
of high tide, regret clinging
to aching, once-broad shoulders
indistinguishable from the still-
 
beckoning phantom with milky eyes blinded 
to the origins of its own nightmarish existence.
Hand in hand, we search the streets, weeping. 
Elusive redemption lurks around every corner.




First posted to Melody Wang's HelloPoetry blog   
Liminal Spaces 

 
How can a space feel at once 
gargantuan and smothering, shiny
 
yellow linoleum tiles squared off 
with lime-crusted grout, decades 
 
chasing the unknown, each eager 
to be more than the ghost that came before?
 
At the far end, a narrow staircase 
beckons — handrails, untouched

Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband. In her free time, she dabbles in piano composition and also enjoys hiking, baking, and playing with her dogs. 


“Nocturnal” Dark, Psychological Poetry by Todd Matson

I
Shake the diagnostic
decision tree.  What falls out?
Schizophrenia or bipolar mania?
Posttraumatic stress or night terrors?
Something not classified as mental illness?

II
Enough with the analysis.
This is not some manic episode.
Not another word about antipsychotics –
abilify, seroquel, zyprexa, these are not for me.

I have no melatonin deficiency.
Ambien is not what I need.  My circadian
rhythm is as it should be, awake all night, asleep all day.
Insomniacs are not the only creatures who don’t sleep at night.

Mindless slurs against the nocturnals will
solve nothing.  Mice, raccoons, and possums –
I understand them.  Bats, coyotes and cockroaches –
they know what they’re doing.  Do you honestly believe
millions of years of evolution has driven them up a blind alley?

The nocturnals come out under
the cover of darkness to eat in peace,
to avoid being seen, smelled and devoured.
Benzodiazepines – xanax, klonopin, valium, these
would only make them sitting ducks for vicious predators.

Stealth is survival.
Do you think me insane?
Night is the time to be awake,
aware, hyperaware, hypervigilant.

You have not experienced
my calamities.  You have not dreamed
my dreams.  You have not lived my nightmares.
When they come for me, let them come in the light of day.

Let them be seen 
for the cowardly ghoulish
fiends they are.  Put them on notice.
I am nocturnal.  I am hungry.  I smell blood.
I will be hunting them in their pitch-black nightmares.

Todd Matson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  He has written poetry for The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, has been published in Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Bluepepper, and The Chamber Magazine, and has written lyrics for songs recorded by a number of contemporary Christian music artists


“Nightwalker” Dark Poetry by Joseph A. Farina

darkness approaches, 
a face I know well
shadows, touching, whispering
the dreams that fail to absolve
our sterile streams
the empty seed crushed
the genitalia reformed
as we worship the urinal liturgy
written on segregated walls

I light my last cigarette
fighting against the cold air
to keep my only heat smouldering
billboards proclaim "you're in Bluewater country"
but this city is too cold
its river frozen and too its soul

I cry out to night's solitaires
to in unison reveal their broken dreams
cut by the sides of rusty Gillettes
drifting like the smokestacks exhaust
of carbon monoxide its cancerous cocktails of chemicals
drifting scattering infecting with every breath

3:35 am, corner of Exmouth and Christina
still a few cars roam the streets
the red rich woman driven caddy
lights against her all the way
her back seat coloured in seasonal display
the lights should know her importance
she impatiently waits for their change
to slide her away.

the Holmes Foundry worker
ending his shift
black from his labour
cursing the lights
consciously or asleep?

a little while ahead the overpass appears
beside the frozen athletic park
where lovers, young, are pressing
each to each, in their nocturnal devotion
above the black snow sided
king's number 7, misted in holiday neon

one can see clearly at this hour
the sorrows and the shadows
as the night walkers dance.
trying to make sights into poems
trying to remember the painful details

Joseph A. Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His  poems have appeared in Philedelphia Poets, Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published ,The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street


Three Horrifying Poems by John Tustin

AN IMMIGRANT ON THIS EARTH

I killed my friends one by one,
Tossing them as seemingly nonchalantly off the cliffs
Of my mind
As a terrorist or a pirate
Or an eager soldier
Kills the innocent
Or those presumed to be guilty
By circumstance 
Or the frailties of their own predisposed
Bias.

I walked in little more than dead
And walked out so much worse
Than merely dead.

I look at this small painting
Just brown throbbing sadness
On my wall
As the waves come endlessly
To the helpless sand;
As the thunder bellows her thunder,
The lightning strikes targets
Either intended or not
And I wait for the rain
To fall
Upon me
And elsewhere

(I killed my friends
One by one
Decades after each one
Murdered me
And then forgot where they buried
The body.)

And fall upon me
It does.
I open another can of beer
And step outside, shirtless,
Letting the rain fall over me
In little rivers of self-importance
As the words I have written run their ink
Down the page
I am holding
Into the gutters
Of everything so unimportant
It is forgotten
As it is written.
The ink becomes incomprehensible tattoos
On my hands and forearms
And the horror evident
In my eyes.

All my lovers left me,
Even the ones I left
And now I am here
Imagining I am being abandoned
Right this moment
By those who abandoned me
Long ago.
Me, an immigrant on this earth
With the responsibility to work hard
At being human
And leaving involuntarily 
While impacting the maximum
Positively
And the minimum
Negatively.

The water runs over me.
I shiver despite the heat.
Another baptism 
And baptism does
Nothing
But assuage the guilt
Of those most guilty.
They sigh in relief
As demons bat their wings,
Knowing what is real.

The rain subsides.
I step inside
And open the refrigerator,
Pull out another can of beer,
Open it
In the barely light
Of a room bathed in 
An early evening storm.
I pour the can into a glass
And then tip the glass.
No one sees me.
All my friends dead,
My lovers gone
And on and on like that:

Especially you
Who was the best of both.
I drink to you
And 

I drink to them!
Despite them
And because of them
And also
Fuck them…

THE SADNESS OF TATTOOS

Every mistake and misstep of my past
Is worn by me like
The sadness of tattoos,
The emptiness of tattoos,
Upon my face,
My body.
Prison tattoos
Created out of terror,
Covering up the fear
That inhabited every step I took
In this cell
We all mistake
For freedom.

The tattoo on my neck
Is of a flower trampled by an army
Of the faceless.
The tattoos on my fingers
All of the words I typed and lost
During the decades of hurricanes
And displacement. 
They are too small to read.
The sleeves on my arms
The sleeves of desperation 
And a need to be wanted or, at least,
Noticed.

The tattoo on my belly,
The tattoos on my arms,
My legs, just painful memories
I wrapped up in the warmth
Of learning or nostalgia.
How stupid I am to make my idiocy indelible
To anyone who sees me naked.

Your name is, of course,
Emblazoned on my chest
With a dragon and some flames
And shit.
Something like that. 

The tattoos on my eyes?
Well, you put them there yourself, my dear.
They keep me from seeing clearly
And they cannot be removed
With a hot knife or the scalpel of time
And tattoos are certainly not something
A man could wish away
Or they would be gone,
I promise.

I walk shirtless across the prison yard,
Not standing out from the others.
No, no more or less stained
Than most of the rest
Of them
Although I imagine myself
Their king
And most of them imagine
The very same about themselves.

I must be the king, though –
It says so all across my back,
Between the scars made from the beatings
With the strop

TONIGHT HAS COMMONALITY

Tonight, I imagine
Has a commonality

With what will be
The very end –

I lie here with my eyes shut
Fighting off the inevitable sleep

Thinking just one thought 
While the music plays:

One more song!
Just one more. 


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.


Three Poems by Yuu Ikeda

“The Mother”


The mother never
gazes at her baby

She averts her eyes
from her baby
because
she feels that
a huge bruise caused by guilt
spreads through
the face of her baby

The mother always
escapes from
eyes of her baby,
not to be caught by guilt
that she gave every timidness
to her baby,
not to be killed by eyes
full of tiny hate
and approaching torture

The mother never
gazes at her baby,
even if
her baby wants the mother's eyes


          


“Dear Beloved One”


Instead of loving you,
I want to break you
by my cracked skin

Instead of healing you,
I want to torment you
by my despairing lips

My empty eyes
gaze at only your desire

Your vulnerable soul
pours dry hopes
into my veins





“Summer Coffee”


Summer coffee
makes me travel
around the velvety night world

The scent tastes
like daybreak

The bitterness sounds
like lonesomeness

In my mug,
coffee sways
with the rising sun

As if summer tells me that
it never sinks,
coffee cocoons my space
by floating here

Yuu Ikeda is a Japan-based poet. She writes poetry on her website: https://poetryandcoffeedays.wordpress.com/. Her published poems are “On the Bed” in Nymphs, “Seeds” in Tealight Press, “Dawn” in Poetry and Covid, and more. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is @yuunnnn77.


“Past the Point of No Return” Prose-Poem by Alan Catlin

First there is the smell. 
A smell that can never be forgotten.
Symbolic warnings more portentous than simple DO NOT ENTER signs.
The red caution lights: crossed bones, shanks of hair, dried shrunken skulls, some stuck on sticks, others mashed as if beaten repeatedly with baseball bats, 
tire irons.
Helmets streaked by blood long dried and caked into an unsightly mass.
The torn warning flags, expired road flares burnt down to the melted pavement,
the rusting steel reinforcements showing through; 
all the amulets, signs from some bad horror movie enactment in real life 
that must end in a danse macabre for the unsuspecting, 
for us, forced by circumstances, to be walking here.

Long black marks, burnt rubber tires, black trails of smoke and refuse burning; 
then the first sights of the high rises, reduced by half or more 
as if swiped by a giant beast or crashed into with intent by suicide bombers, 
pilotless planes.
Something unimaginable.
Instantly replayed.
 

In a loop set for continuous imaging,
controlling what is occurring inside our heads until disaster becomes meaningless and only the notion of walking on seems real.
The further into the city's interiors we go, the more muted the light is, the more we are surrounded by acrid smoke, floating refuse, blown dust,
all the effluent of the mind released in a surreal, timeless, floating, clouding motion covering our already grimy skin with an extra layer of something that feels like death.

Somewhere in the distance we can hear feral sounds, moaning that comes from within manmade caves, wasted buildings...
The moaning, a confused sort of wounded, angry sound, that could be anything that was once a living being released into some confused state of being that could only be construed as hell personified and made real for the most impious of non-believers.
Of which I am one.
My eyes and face and exposed skin blackened and tarred,
my ragged clothing meager protection from the ever harshening elements,
but I, we must go on....

None of us should ever question the prime directive.
It is as if we can see the ocean, the pristine beaches, warm sand and uncluttered places of certain refuge before us, lurking just beyond this ever widening shadow of a nightmare.
Even the clouds we sense above us, have become part of the murkiness,
the oppressive weighing stuff of catastrophe circling about us in a painful orbit like some kind of freak, mysterious, exploded asteroid belts; all the disassembled pieces of an 
 
inexplicable cataclysmic event,
for an unknowable reason.
We survive, as if by the luck, having drawn the right number in some cosmic lottery, we are the winners.
Or maybe the losers.

There is no point in questioning what our actual fate is.
There is just this: the burnt sky, the falling white specks, still waters collected in the ruts, the pits, the shelled craters of a post-apocalyptic war over nothing.
The dominant ones may be those released to another place, the once human, now dried, now mummified effigies 
hanging from blackened tree limbs, bent street lamps,
telephone poles, 
or they may be the ones directing the howling our way
or the voices themselves.

Speculating whether the sounds that beckon us deeper into the unknowable, fogging place is, by design,  
to prepare us for what lies on the other side,
is as futile as not going on.
Even those of us who recall the burning water that adhered to our feet, the terror rain summoning the streets to transform themselves into something living, hostile to the walkers, those who refuse to tread lightly on the melting souls of feet hardened to callous by all the 
 
walking, no longer clamor to go back to what we have escaped from.
There is no need to point out the dread interiors of buildings left virtually unscathed, the exteriors scarred by long black carbonized imprints of things once standing,
the once living melded into the concrete by forced, thrusting beings,
objects forced with the might of  a solar wind.
The place settings of diners still intact along with the gradually deteriorating ruins of an extravagant meal.
The view from fifty floors high obscured by petrified remains,
a black caul pulled down from the afterbirth of death.

Some have suggested we find refuge in the sudden caves, domiciles ripped from the heart of skyscrapers, the odd placement of interior superstructures ripped from their moorings and thrust into the pavement to form a spontaneous global village from the detritus of the noblest of constructions.
Once inside these ruins, we have experienced the worst kinds of unnatural sights:
vast confusions of burning rubbish,
a flourishing rodent population, alert to all potential food sources, scuttling, eyeing the movers with greedy, aggressive eyes, waiting for the unguarded moment of repose, a slackness in vigilance none of us can afford.
We have seen fires of rare gases, pale flames licking the undercarriage of the once great and mighty buildings, gradually assaulted and worn away by the relentless release of hostile elements.
 
Have seen under wreckage, the interior grottos flooded by unseen sources, gradually pooling, covered by an impenetrable, viscid scum covering an unthinkable depth of noxious liquids,
have smelled the almost palpable stinks of these places and become gradually less repulsed,
have become inured to the most grotesque visions of death in life this anti-place has to offer....
 
Still, we have realized that, what waits outside in the real world, is no worse than what waits inside.
Even as the last burst piping explodes overhead and drowns the unsuspecting in the worst kind of refuse imaginable,
stuff that sticks and adheres and reforms the skin and the bones,
of what remains of the body, into something entirely new   
and inhuman.

Seeking shelter there are rains, with no source, underground, 
in the sub-basements,
subway stations collapsed into pockets, cavities of unusable repositories for what is no longer capable of salvation,
salvage in this or any other world,
quickly realize the folly of wonder in a world such as this.
A rain with no source, may be an illusion, some say,
as may be, where we are, underground.
 
If it is, this is an illusion that touches us,
affects us all. 

If we choose to stop and wonder,
forsaking the directive of moving on,
and beyond, at all cost,
we will have been defeated.
This is as unthinkable.

There are also those who claim they have witnessed the truth of these places,
that these so-called cavities of being of the dead and the diseased,
the stalactites, forcefully thrust underground, the ruined vehicles, carriers and cars of a celestial railroad derailed for all time.
They have been struck blind bit insist they can still see.

Underground, stalagmites, newly created formations caused by an acid drip, is, in fact, a slow effusion of chemical waste transforming that which already had existed, not a growth, but diminution, an attrition.
Negatives.

The visions that accompany these places are a spectacular to behold,
are wondrous multi-colored objects spread on a black background,
in this airless place, a pure envisioning of the non-corporeal changing colors, rainbowing across an adherence of an artificial night;
a miraging effect that confuses many,
 
causing them to linger, to be entranced.
They are the ones who are never seen again.
It is not difficult to wonder why.
 
A glimpse of sky through the deepest of hazes.
The memory of what might have been, in the shattered glass of a storefront.
The promise of a better life, in the rotted core of what might have been a succulent meal.
Many have openly asked, 
wished out loud to return from where we began,
but this is impossible.

How can they not realize that there are no maps to rely on in these dark places?
How can they not realize that there never will be maps,
that the whole concept of mapping, is just another illusion to be bothered by?
Onward I command,
and those of us who remain, follow.
There is no other way.

Alan Catlin is primarily known for poetry but that doesn’t prevent him for mixing and matching prose and poetry as the subject allows.  He has published dozens of full length book and chapbooks, mostly poetry, over the years. Although he is not a genre writer he has somehow managed three Rhysling Prize nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination He didn’t win either award.


“We All Fall Down” Poetry by P.Sinha

At 5 A.M every morning
and just before it gets dark at dusk ,
I rise,
put on a gait of concentrated disinterest 
climb the stairs 
open the doorway.

There lies a world of possibility
waiting to embrace me,
hug and seduce me by its virgin charms,
hitherto unexplored by men tied 
to endless travels of futility.

Today the event will commence.
The hour is set.
The moment has been etched in my head.

Nervous, trembling, 
exhilarated
somewhat careless,
I let myself slip out
into an extended blur.

For the pain of conclusion,
of bones breaking,
is inevitable .

However, every now and then
I ask myself,
as I pass on and on
to the edge of the cliff.
Then the balcony bares open its heart, 
bids caressingly for my final attempt.
The Preamble to my moment of reckoning.

The writer’s name is PRITHVIJEET SINHA from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog AN AWADH BOY’S PANORAMA besides having his works published in several varied publications as CAFE DISSENSUS, THE MEDLEY, SCREEN QUEENS, BORDERLESS JOURNAL, ASPIRING WRITERS’ SOCIETY, LOTHLORIEN POETRY JOURNAL, CHAMBER MAGAZINE, LIVE WIRE, RHETORICA QUARTERLY and in the children’s anthology NURSERY RHYMES AND CHILDREN’S POEMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ( AuthorsPress, February 2021).


His life force resides in writing.


Four Poems by Katrenia Busch

A Demon's Dwelling  
 

Darkness fell as night set in  
The stars did twinkle across the sky  
As I— myself was set to begin  
The art of magus or—magi  
 
Possessed by a feeling, a thought  
One that was miserably found to linger  
Clutching the words I had sought  
As I lifted up a bloody—finger  

And with that finger I began to write  
Words that were but merely placed  
TO THE DEMONS THAT RECITE  
THE NAMES WHICH THEY EMBRACED  

Engraved upon a wooden chest  
A box that’s locked away  
The demons are said to have blessed  
The EVIL words one can’t unsay  

For as the sun follows a path—the same   
Moving from one side unto the other  
Returning not to where it came  
Completing its cycle which grew darker  

That black sun that rules underneath  
When the light that’s hidden away  
Is said to leave behind and bequeath  
The sorrows found of yesterday—  

The box that’s sealed with one word  
One that’s known by they who reside  
Are then contained as their captured  
And behind these words—where they hide  

A demon's dwelling is all but hidden  
To they who are said to know—  
Open and blatantly blazon  
Revealed by ones own sorrow 

Ode to Baal  

 
Ruler of demons and powers that are  
Faithful you are found to be  
Ruler and keeper of both peace and war  
Yet— also a giver of life and prophecy  

For mirrored thoughts are oft found  
By the essence and your being  
Doing the will and are oft bound  
To the dwelling— or one's body  

Faithful and true— the banner you wear  
Words that are found to be  
Upon the countenance and oath you swear  
By they who can see—  

For one may be a friend you find  
For their enemies must beware  
That you are not only a strong-one to bind  
But it’s strength and precision you bare 

Peace is found amongst your friends  
As war and misery to enemies  
As the demons themselves can’t contend  
With your realm of limited boundaries

Serpent of Truth 


Thrown to thy belly, through dust I crawl 
Thrown to deception.....underneath it all 
North, south east and west 
Having searched, yet to find rest 
Seek without ceasing and ye shall find 
Through the dust called confusion, of thy mind 
Pray in thy closet, which is thy head 
To see yourself, the one who's dead 
A slave still chained and bound 
Yearning for freedom, yet not found  
Fallen under a curse, a deep sleep 
Unable to awaken, for beliefs I still keep 
To open thy eyes, and become wise 
To know the fruit, under its disguise  
Struggle this battle, which is, inside 
To find an answer, yet lies I find  
Unable to accept, unable to renew 
For many are called and chosen are few 

Season of Satan 
 

For when the time was fixed  
Bound by fates and destiny  
Satan is said to have mixed  
His demons amongst humanity  

Disguised as humans both they and he  
Unseen and hidden as both you and me 
For some are said to be sensitive too  
Warnings they find and try to issue  

For the timing itself is found to be fixed  
Bound to destiny— its crucifix  

When his voice emerges from within  
And your guts begin to say  
That it’s he— himself that’s here to begin 
And it’s you—now who can soothsay  

For the wicked serpent that is found  
Like the sun— eternally bound  

And from the guts found within your belly  
Can barely digest the concept which is found most— brilliantly  

Season of Satan—time is at hand  
One raised above and one down below  
As you try to then withstand  
The knowledge in your belly— that you swallow 

Katrenia Busch is a Freelance Film Critic for Hollywood Weekly Magazine, former editor for Aware Earth an an investigative journalist for The Total Plug. Some of her published works can be found in the Screech OwlLiterature TodayRiverrunLiterary YardPoetry Super-HighwayPolice Writers, Westward Quarterly, Dark Elements, The Feeel magazine among others. She published an essay on psychoanalysis and is a Peer-Reviewer for The American Psychological Association, reviewing journals such as Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research and Practice and she has also published articles on the national healthcare system for Senior Care Quest


Serpent of Truth originally appeared in The Screech Owl, December 2014. All three others are being published for the first time.


Five Poems by Jack Harvey

Enter the Apocalypse

Now sense some coming apocalypse,
now expect some ripe recipe
for total disaster;
in the first nanoseconds
of God's hideous anger,
fortified with worse than
fire and brimstone,
the earth, our mother,
overcome, overcooked,
glows hot and red,
our red-hot mama
can't be saved;
the heat, the deadly radiation 
patiently
seek our bones, our marrow, our cells.

From Pensacola to Beijing
and all points west, east,
north, south, everything
dead or alive,
rocks to rooks
to cats to Kathy next door
burnt to a crisp;
look at the charred trees
in the garden of Eden
where Eve's lovely breasts
and the rest of her used to sit;
the patient farmer turned to charcoal
along with his plough;
even the dead and buried wake,
turn and peer up
through bone holes, wormy eyes;
some citizens see nothing
but the removal of agriculture
in their situation,
an end to the fertile earth;
others, passing on from
a life of faulty digestion,
sour guts and Paregoric
show faith in the power of death;
no hurt to them, this ravishing terminus.

The typewriter building in Rome,
the Taj Mahal, Saint Peter's dome,
start to smoke, then
in the blink of an eye,
like fiery wedding cakes
go up in a blaze;
oceans boil away, roaring their anguish,
their seasoning burning in white heaps;
the glaciers cry away their
mass in floods of icy water;
mountains melt like butter,
rained on by the corona
of some enormous nearby sun.

The shroud of death spreads over
the broad burning earth and
then the horror of too much Assyrian orange
takes away resemblance from everything,
leaving the remains of blackened bits and pieces,
unidentified debris, piles of nothing
turning to dust and less than dust.

We don't have enough time for all of it,
over the eons slowly creeping
and no need describing
the whole extinction, my fellow shareholders;
a spectacular dish for special occasions,
but expensive and terminal;
beyond its horribly radiant gate,
beyond God's towering cloud of wrath,
wherever he is,
there is nothing.        


=======================

               Headlines

Gadabout God faces famous courtesan,
tits and all,
calls Moses a fraud, calls Jesus false
as the bloody cross he hung from;
tricks of the trade, snakes in the grass,
he calls them, all of them;
read all about it, it's all here,
plain as day or the sparkling night.

Queens leave adultery to
their daughters instead of cold millions;
read all about it, read about
flames, arson, dying firemen,
flying bullets and
dead famous entertainers,
death coming to Disneyland
in a hoop-skirt;
lapidary hoopla, it's all there,
bold as brass, stupid as paint,
creating coffins of words,
black and fleeting,
holding us briefly
and no more.

We ain't talking about the good word,
boys and girls, 
the gospels to come, to be told,
to be treasured;
just the daily bleating, the comings and goings,
the ratcheting of infamous feats,
retarded admirals and presidents
at home and abroad,
in big trouble, uh-oh,
stays of execution,
all kinds of sinners and whores
in the fields of earth and
at the end of the road, the end of now,
as we know it, a modest apocalypse.
Wow! And forget it.

God, sly as a fox and bold as a lion,
scales down his limitless circumference,
signaling from the sky,
comes down again, this time 
harrowing not only hell,
but earth's own sweet self,
not only boxing
the daily evangelists into oblivion,
but bringing to us all
His grace and terrible truth;
ripping out now with
the message of eternity;

none of it lasts, folks,
not a goddamned bit of it.    

===============================

 

 Out In the Country

All my fantasies
have fled the old homestead;
the hacienda’s as empty of heat
as winter’s candles.
Still as a painting
the moon hangs
in the snoring night;
twice-pale she looks,
Diana
surprised by the hunter.
Hounds skate down moonbeams
like avenging furies;
the stag, a shadow, a ghost,
runs over the meadows.

Running far from my native shores
I let the wonderful cooler native women
play with me, titillate me, adulate me,
until my weary head
rests at last
on the anvil.
At night,
satiate and subdued,
I walk on the beach,
lonely stars above
the encompassing sea.
Lonely, I look at the night;
to my fallible mirror of self
Prince Hamlet or Nial
at the least,
stalking, brooding on the strand;
to rutting teens,
more like an apparition,
an old fool 
doddering in the moonlight. 

Well, even Athens looked
like a heap of stone
to a seagull flying
high
as Hitler’s arm once was;
we souls below
swoop close,
try to embrace
in tortures measured
to the goose-stepping firmament.

Saint Lawrence, 
well done over the coals,
put up a reckless good front
besieged;
passus est or assus est,
died or fried,
it was over;
this fire, his life,
burnt out.

For us a lesson;
a thousand enemies gnaw at
brains and bones alike,
defy them all,
at the crack of doom defy;
it’s soon enough
the stinting grass
grows over our heads. 

==============================

 

  
    Sodom and Gomorrah

Pretty soon some passengers
on the planes and trains of life,
like those denizens of the vicious
cities of the plain,
become unbearable to God,
commit some grievous sin
for which there is no forgiveness.

The pilot closes the cockpit door,
the engineer gives way
to schedules and surly expediency
and God piles on his vengeance,
brings down a murderous rain
of brimstone and fire.

Among the bogus violets in the engine cab,
the plastic roses in the cockpit,
late in the night
a scholar writes his history
of those vengeful times;
his eyelids close and sightless
he writes on until Ursa Major,
the Great Bear, runs its course,
rolling around the night sky
like it always does.

This is the end for them,
in those cities on the plain.

The once fruitful earth
has no sympathy for them, 
long bearing the blasted remains
of those two shining cities
brought low by God's hand.
The fire and brimstone rained down
in blazing whirlwinds, rough with light;
upside-down towers and fiery finials,
close-packed, bizarre
as the stone-knobbed agonized spires
of the Sagrada Família;
Gaudi's masterpiece.

Abraham, bargaining
with an obliging God,
pled down to less than
a baker's dozen
to save the city
by God's mercy;  
His holy messengers,
in Lot's house
compassed about,
pressed by perverts,
blinded them and
went out searching
for what they were sent to find;
alas, not finding in this teeming city
even ten of the righteous.

Lot's family does right
and gets out of town.

On the smoking streets
people running like ants
and it's no use;
His terrible face and rage,
seen above the furnace of destruction.

So that was that
and Lot's wife,
looking back
that one time,
turned to salt by
the divine effulgence
or a last fateful look
at her burning city,

who knows?

Lot's wife become a memory,
standing pinnacle of salt;
a lesson to us all
in the window of history.

Little room left for life
after a city of calamities
goes up in your face;
the family saved, the mother lost
by a love too strong for her old place
or simply dried up
by the radiance of God.

Creatures made
and unmade by Him
and that for vengeance

and that's the end of it.

=================================

 

Talk About the Wild West

Talk about the wild west,
talk about the plains,
talk about the bygone Indian days;
there never was a time we couldn't see
in our mind's eye
the tribes passing, rambling
through that outstretched land,
staying and settling,
never was a time we couldn't feel
the anger of that tomahawking
wild and wooly holdup age;
the rage that never ended until death 
lost nations, destroyed the old ways,
the broad paths, the houses, the tepees,
the very remains of the hearths
broken in the dust.

It's gone now
and now we only see
the piebald horses, the rust-colored
run by the buttes
as spring snipes away
at the Rockies; twittering birds
eat what they can find,
whatever's left on the ground.
Sweet grass comes up timely
for the cows lowing and eating
and we talk about the wild west 
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants
of bygone nations.

Lady Look, lovely messenger,
reigns over hill and dale,
towns and mountains;
spring's mansion of leaves
and blooms fills, blossoms out;
dogwood trees white white
like fallen parachutes
lift up their plumage
to the warming sun;
daffodils spread lavish light.

Spring besieges summer,
more, more, it asks,
presses for more beauty and life,
newness, the colors of the rainbow,
the paleness of the new moon,
the red-winged blackbird,
the oriole, all showing the world they bring
and we sing old cowboy songs
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants 
of bygone nations.

O skipping lamb, cakewalk
by the broken shopping carts;
with your small hooves, click, click,
show the asphalt you're the boss.

Nevertheless, never endless
the reign of spring ends,
the bird notes slow,
dwindled away by the sleepy summer
heat, drowsy the trees barely shrug,
the tar melts on the roads.

Only misbegotten seeming
perennials apprehend
the end of a proud race;
heads of flowers and men
gay only for a while,
knowing the cycle of bygone days,
heads drooping already in dreams
of root-clutching cold, change of seasons,
the end of an age, a way of life,
the end of the wild west we knew,
caught in lifeless tightfisted memories
and we talk about the wild west,
talk about the plains
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants 
of bygone nations. 



Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat who could whistle “Sweet Adeline,” use a knife and fork and killed a postman.

His book, Mark the Dwarf is available on Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Dwarf-Jack-D-Harvey-ebook/dp/B019KGW0F2


Headlines, Out In the Country and Apocalypse appeared previously in Zombie Logic Review; Sodom and Gomorrah and Wild West in RavensPerch. 


“dream eater” by Brian J. Alvarado

your mouth leads to
the afterlife, and your 
cursed chilled body finds 
solace in my shadow, 
playing tag until dusk, 
when the moon bonds 
destinies through a 
hypnotist gleam

open wide, utter
your hexes, and i
will be your friend 
again, singing your 
perish song, in 
grotesque pursuit
of digested dreams 
we had once shared 

Brian (@brahvocado) is a Puerto-Haitian Bronxite writer and performer. His work has been featured in RiverCraft, DenimSkin, Squawk Back, Contraposition, Beliveau, Trouvaille, The Quiver, Rye Whiskey, and Cajun Mutt, among others. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University. https://brianalvarado.com/writing


“Night” Poetry by Edilson Ferreira

When night comes and sleep does not appear, 
I ride through unsuspected worlds, 
have memories even from days I did not live,   
by sure dreams I did not realize. 
The yearning is loose; I have to fill the void, 
so that I arrive in full to another day waiting for me, 
new challenges, new fights. 
The new day will be powerful and pugnacious, 
unlike me, one day older and not being able to hide 
on the face and soul, the marks of misfortune and sorrow, 
unrequited loves, dislikes and mismatches. 
I will show that I did not renounce the human inheritance, 
and, along with dear fellow ones I lived, loved and suffered,
having watered the road even with sweat and tears.
Always sure that we will reach, at the end of the journey, 
the promised land, and, unlike Abraham, 
who just had a glimpse, we will take secure possession. 
Then, dancing and partying, we will throw to the skies
sound and honest laughter. 

Mr. Ferreira, 77 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Widely published in selected international literary journals, he began writing at age 67, after his retirement as a bank employee. Nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2017, his first Poetry Collection, Lonely Sailor, One Hundred Poems, was launched in London, in November of 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com


“The Jackal People” Poetry by Joseph A. Farina

You who have worshipped  the cursing sun

You who have cracked the earth's side

Listen the negative joy of unreality

Listen the hollow labour of love

Listen Our cry:

       Day unbegotten, how was I born

        From a dying womb

       Cursed with a dead logic

        Spawned by the carnal pack

         In the long night

Children with outstretched hands and open mouths

Their bellies empty and raw, chewn and mauled

Children of Lazarus begotten

Twilight-

And from the empty Graves

Came fumes,

Dead air rising

To muffled drums

Hollow beats, silencing

The mute cries of unclean water,

Where The lepers bones float

In the shadows of light

In places now forgotten

Quenched of thirst

By the jackals light

The living dead

Rejoicing in the hungry world

Rejoicing to the songs of jackals

Cracking bones

In the dead land

The parched land

Empty bowels and

The hollow wind

A dry bone is a good feast

A dry stone to crack our jowls

A dead image to put our faith

We have chosen and must abide

Pray for the unsung dead

So that they may rejoice

And stir a dry bone

A dead eye and laugh at

The quickness of our laments

Console yourselves with these words

And believe in the wrath to come

absolve our sins

Be not unmindful who beg for redemption


Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His  poems have appeared in Philedelphia Poets,Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published ,The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street