Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4 poems by John Donovan


The rolled up hills of
middle Oklahoma -
satellite dishes burned
at the stake -
Christina threw our
blankets into
Coal Creek while I
folded flowers
on an ancient lake
bed. We were
short women wearing
capes and
face paint - practicing
sleep walking.
A dozen white and
black cows
avalanched some twenty
acres away.


In 1997 she was made
bishop   and her father
(a manufacturer of steel
billboards) put out a
rat trap.

Brahman takes a stroll

to the zoo to see when the bears - maps
in twists of fur - light knuckles for the
masses - bald science's fair instinct being
fished and God is looking - on exit from a
forty something - slipping into this mannish
smirk of bronze discretion - would ache.


"budding fee"
"eel zen"
"eating tune"

"Night Ass"
"ice tans"
"dent tide"

"tree bust"
"D nose"

"bay breeze"
"god Noose"
"clove spurned"

"lay tally"
"ivy seamer"

"sand herb"
"owes hat"
"fowl Lent"

"rum, Hercules"

John Donovan is a musician who writes, records, and releases music from his bedroom.
Between songs he writes poems and makes art. John grew up in Dallas, TX and lives in St. Louis, MO. His music can be heard at http://music.johndonovanmusic.com/ 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

5 poems by Larry Sawyer


the browning edges of the photograph are the outskirts of a map, in which

may be found the beasts and drooping trees living green in the memory

and we inhabit those regions, completely forgotten until once again

we glance into that other world and return to that day that

haunts us at the edge of a table, which pretends to go unnoticed

but now we are aware, and this awareness is an elevator that

carries us upward in our minds

what we resemble most upon realizing these invented scents

at the cliff’s edge is that a photograph is a scalpel

performing the most delicate operation.


At the core of couches

your white radish thought alive with plentiful

owls. In the flaming crotch

of chance

the hot kinetic speech monkey

newly fused and erotic

yes, you heard right

chews the winged ethical conundrum

called alive

You’ve tormented

seizures, doused


especially, with

paradisal poems

Not scrying, or sitting in

a sound bath, listening to the magnetic plumage’s

stony ligature

sucking an incandescent virginity

you failed our czarist tarantula

protested invalidated simulations

electronic kitten pots

buried hyperactive bonfires

and so we wait.


machine for making disdain

machine for making love

machine for making meadow grass

machine for making gardens

machine for making rock

machine for making music

machine for making bees

machine for making obviousness

machine for making night

machine for making god

machine for making excavations

machine for making judgment

machine for making Chicken Kiev

machine for making distances

machine for making pink

machine for making sleep

machine for making dreams

machine for making light.


I have given up sleep and now
continuously walk waking up

keeping me awake these tired lines
which prop my gargantuan eyes

Once a woman called to me
sleep, sleep, but I said unequivocally

I must witness the whole of life this waking
dream, after she ignored me.


contradictions of
frozen strawberries here
walking along Michigan avenue
which moves like a Mozart sonata
not No. 16 in C major too familiar
for this rarity of
December air
its frosty fidelity as I think about
putting a suit and tie
on my loneliness and going out

but stay inside with
a cup of yesterday's razor sharp worries but now
I'm walking again and nothing
seems transcendent it all seems dull

but I remember now, too this reification
while walking through this
poem that now has such tired eyes
I'm hungry for comfort.

Apollinaire wrote of the gamy
of memory, and I think of Chicago's lost coyotes

and listen to frozen
bells sparkling through the streets mothering
my shivering words
shouting at posterity.

Larry Sawyer/ poetry and literary reviews have appeared in publications including Action Yes, The Argotist (UK), The Chicago Tribune, Coconut, Court Green, Esque, Exquisite Corpse, Hunger, Jacket (Australia), The Miami Sun Post, MiPoesias, The National Poetry Review, Outlaw (UK), The Prague Literary Review (Czech Republic), Rain Taxi, Shampoo, Skanky Possum, Tabacaria (Portugal), Van Gogh's Ear (France), Vanitas, VLAK (Czech Republic), Ygdrasil, and elsewhere. His work appeared in The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century (anthology, Cracked Slab Books, 2007). Convulsive Editions will soon publish a poem as a broadside with visual art by Allyssa Wolf. He’s curated the Myopic Books Poetry Reading Series in Wicker Park, Chicago since 2005, and has hosted readings there nearly every weekend that have included poets such as Eileen Myles, Ron Silliman, Cole Swensen, and Bernadette Mayer, as well as many Chicago-area poets. His debut collection, Unable to Fully California (cover art by Krista Franklin), is available on Otoliths Press (Australia). An ebook, Werewolf Weather (cover art by Gary Sullivan), recently appeared as an Argotist ebook. Sawyer also edits milk magazine (since 1998) with Lina ramona Vitkauskas and has published work by a wide variety of international poets and artists including Charles Bernstein, Jerome Rothenberg, Bill Berkson, Pierre Joris, and Wanda Coleman. Larry coordinated an online installation of the work of Japanese surrealist Yamamoto Kansuke for milk: the only online magazine granted permission to do so by the artist’s estate. Larry has read his work at venues such as the BONK! Reading and Performance Series in Racine, Wisconsin; the Chicago Printer's Row Lit Fest; Columbia College Chicago; The Hideout in Chicago; Myopic Books in Chicago; The Poetry Center of Chicago; Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago; The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2 poems by Garrett Johnson

Of the Generational Sort

i was young and thought
i could keep an ideal in my slippers,
thought the oars were patterned
in the maze with catered semblances.

i watch as people undertake the same thing i tried,
weaving and sailing, and without a doubt the lovely crane
leaks into the grease that orbits their endeavors.
i am eager to know if little hairs can make this bread become solid.

the grooves i create are in records that were filed
by generalized conscience and teasing glimpses.
there's a disruption in my palette, and grey hair in the midst
of assignments singing. i think about what to do

and the ash tells me to step back, assume my role
as platypus in the actor's rear. this seems sufficient,
and no matter how empty this offering may be,
it is what trails my regarded hands.


It was the horns by the gate,
the desert a thing to get mesmerized by
and the great tone, chisel blank, wattage to not fear,
basement roses, routines to compliment.

I followed him up the partly paved way,
he spoke of honeycombs that hang in thin air,
and thick air that was like billboards. "I am afraid,"
he said, of this downfall into what rises from heat

after one can indulge in an anthill that 
is not foreseen, and what the stick figure
horizons can mean in such a stylized deluge.
For this is a margin that is perhaps forbidden territory,

an awful skyscraper hanging from the telephone lines,
or something just as consistent, a gesture towards vision
that poses as both a disruption and that which reaffirms this consistency."
And he walked confidently, noticing the care taken on building step paths

for the first or second time, exalting that, it is built, there is no lie.
I walked alongside and watched the plow
invisible in the sky, the tethers on the ranch at a comical distance,
and receded into mercy and hesitant delivery.

Garrett Johnson currently resides and writes in Athens, GA. He studied Creative Writing and other assorted stuff at Warren Wilson College and the Evergreen State College. He is currently learning guitar chords and being secretive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2 poems by Suzanne Savickas

For Akilah

Stood as tall as the neighboring skyscrapers, heel to toe. 

The crows appeared this afternoon.  Never savage.

Never cruel.  Feel the beat within before shaking the rhythm out. 
Counting minus nine lives.  Returns back to this space as an owl.  Nocturnal, we can no 
longer see,

 but we still feel. Troubadours. 

Transverse the points in a diagonal line pointing upwards.

Preface to a Triangle


A formulaic response, prosaic in nature, simple in form.  The angles cannot form ridges.  The sides cannot permeate.  He will not speak to her softly.  She will not respond back.  The ravine in the backyard overflows in his mind.  She refuses to continue the thought process.   The desire to create a lake from the ravine becomes idealistic.  She transfers his patterned words into a more legible text.  His thinking smears before them.

Smog.  The color of his dirty feet after barefoot marks all day.  Never notices that.  Never sees the discoloration.  The toes bend sideways—slowly opposing farther from the body.  Her hair, curled locks of persimmon, drop a half inch from left toe.   His right foot shifts in mechanical response.  The definition is limitless.  She will forget to buy socks tomorrow. 

The lyrical correspondence begins in his nostrils.  Breath self-regulates before lips parts ways.  They would rather write each other abbreviated notes.  A foreign language created for the pair.  More simple than speech.  More simple than meaning (less) words spoken (before) by many.

The utterance of unknown vernacular forges root before giving seed.  Not topographical.  The couple sitting at the next bench turn to gaze in unison.  One might expect bad music begin to chime in with out of tune chords and poor phrasing for a B-List Cinema Reel.  She wishes that the situation could be more black and white.  Translucent to egg-shell-cream.  She seldom realizes her inner strength.  Fists clenched.  Elbows bent. 


Parallelograms arranged before the audience.  The pair of strangers in the background seldom pay attention  to their surroundings.  The wilted oak leaf on the ground appears more interesting than the flesh juxtaposed.

Suzanne Savickas is the founder of Le Pink-Elephant Press, as well as the print journal, A Trunk of Delirium.  Her work has appeared in Oranges and Sardines, 13 myna birds, and Monkey Puzzle, among others.  She is currently working on a manuscript of poems based on photographer, Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills.  Suzanne lives and writes in Cleveland, Ohio. 

4 poems by Howie Good


I look up from what I’m reading at a bare tree framed in the kitchen window, a puffy little robin shivering on the nearest branch. In an unknown street turned down by mistake, someone is always being asked, “Last name?”

All of us who ever wondered who it was that invented logic expect to be arrested for things we didn’t do, adopting a language, for example, that has no word for the past, what sounds through the fence like shaved heads and tattooed numbers, hunched men lighting cigarettes, as surprised as I am at how many books my arms can carry.


The fat shadow of a zeppelin crawled over upturned faces, my stoned-out smile queasily in place. What’s the duty of the storyteller if not to tell what happened in the order that it happened? A cat left a dead bird by the front door as a gift, curiously without any blood or marks of violence on it. The spruce tree became a cello. There was no such thing as cancer of the heart. The technical term was cardiomyopathy. Eyes, as joyless as zeroes, gathered whatever would burn.


Look out the window, the caller said, summer’s over. My face was a searchlight aimed at nothing. The hum I heard was just loud enough for me to believe that insects and birds might still exist.

A blonde in Boston screams my name while having drunken sex with a stranger. I never liked these hours, the homeless at every corner and in front of every church.

Up before the sun, you clean your shotgun. It’s a little too early for me to think about dinner. The shorter shells, the more rounds you can load. Your hand waves goodbye at the end of someone else’s arm.

Everything I leave behind, Thoreau said, is to be burned – moose, Indian, tree. It took almost a whole book of matches before the flame would stay lit.


The wind
its hooked beak
into me.

And only
moments ago,
was light
on fire.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, Dreaming in Red, from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here: https://sites.google.com/site/rhplanding/howie-good-dreaming-in-red. He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers from Flutter Press and Personal Myths from Writing Knights Press. He has another chapbook, Fog Area, forthcoming from Dog on a Chain Press.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3 poems by Michael Bernstein


lust's dumb
shreds the
the air

here, in
slays yr

slow to
a crawl,
a meta-
ultra Bliss

every lan-
a soft
of the

streets we
lay w/
our pla-
toon of


yr feet

the pave-
voice bu-


wrung of faces

the night
holds us
to this

sion of
a ditto

wrung of


yr myth
is vague

in coves
of low-

the neu-
ral drone
of bugs

towards er-

to bi-

Michael Bernstein is a writer, bass player, and intermedia composer. His work has appeared in publications such as New American Writing, milk, and BlazeVOX, as well as in numerous chapbooks. With Michael Crake, he edits the online literary arts magazine Pinstripe Fedora, and often serves as a musical accompanist for other poets. Michael lives in Cleveland Heights, OH.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Updated Submission Guidelines

Send 3-5 poems and a short bio to connor.stratman@hotmail.com
Please allow 1-3 weeks for a response.
Simultaneous submissions accepted, but no previously published work.

What we're looking for:
Lyrical, inventive, surreal, funny, pathos, emotionless, conceptual, artificial, political, paratactic, colorful, experimental/weird, invective, prose poems, obliquely gnostic, etc. We also welcome essays on poetics and criticism, provided they're short (not to be much more that 500-600 words).

What we're not looking for:
Poems that do exactly what you'd expect a poem to do. For example: rhyming (unless it's genius, and we have a strict definition of genius rhyming [cf. Pope, Dickinson]), sentimentality, "realism," simple metaphor/simile (dust in the wind, red red roses, etc.), definite themes, historical regression, imitations of Billy Collins or Charles Bukowski, classroom assignments, love poems that are easily read as such, rants/vents, etc.

Looking forward to reading you,
The Balloon