Monday, December 14, 2009

2 poems by J. Michael Wahlgren

The Briefcase Room
(After John Berryman)

This was a dream, as I
never felt that way before in life.
I spoke in Braille, cursed
my hands for ripening her breasts—
In The Briefcase Room, where only

one remains inside, the rest travel
on Caps,
or through the wedded arrival
of groomsman etc. etc., No one has been inside without a code, the erosion
of hinges. Years pass & no last minute decisions;
all are planned by map. Rarely cash,

mostly diamonds.
It was the only way into your fault.
It was the only way.
It was the only way into the vault.
No one has seen The Briefcase room,
only you (!) know of its whereabouts.

With a comma, I breathe again, forcefully devouring, or reversing the smoke inside. Balloon filled with an in-tune note, releases & moves across the sky— a floating G-clef, a whole eye. Street lights attempt to caress the shadows— as I walk, notice, the breath of my air— hot. On the promenade, a drink is filled. Al fresco— the freshness of the gossip, like a plate of who’s who & who slept with who last night. I’m filled up quickly.

Monday, December 7, 2009

3 poems by Bill Yarrow


-The world is an ostrich.
-Then the rich are giraffes.
-They fertilize their hair with sunshine!
-Still obsessed with Carl Laszlo, eh?

-Man, I could tell you...
-What? What could you tell me?
-Do you remember the in-situ-ists?
-I remember the in-sinu-ists.

-I got a letter from Barbara in Toronto.
-Does she still believe in governmental Santas?
-Santa Barbara! O was she a dish!
-I found her somewhat unpalatable.

-Weren’t you the one hungry for her?
-I heard she was into dogs.
-That’s highly salacious!
-Wasn’t he the emperor of Ethiopia?

-I’ve never been anywhere. Not anywhere important.
-Where’s important? Important is only in your head.
-Maybe in your head. I’m in mental foreclosure.
-Don’t let them repossess your frontal lobes!

-All great fortunes have been amassed by stealing.
-Not just that. “Property is theft!”
-My frère Pierre.

-Could I bum a cigarette?
-Who you calling a bum?
-Don’t act stupid. Give me a smoke.
- Choke on it.

-I’m missing a match.
-You got that right.
-Ever wonder why so many people are gutless?


a large part of the dungeon was the life upon her knees
a portion of the torture was a wilderness of hands
an aspect of the nightmare was the unlit empty street
the shade which wouldn't rise sent a chill along her cheek
she shivered at the thought of never giving birth
at the funeral of color she wept a strange disease
what was not attended could no longer be attained
on an endless loop of singing she heard the slogans she had dreamed
she knitted her brow and feared the boiler exploding in the night
from where would the help come tomorrow at this hour?
why were there ghosts in the mirrors feeding on hope?
where was the man who carried her agenda in his mind?
what was happiness to her, a woman of perpetual mien,
who lived wholly within the anguish of her imagination?


A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

-Franz Kafka

Was there, he wondered, some parasite,
some infiltrated germ, some totalitarian
pest, asbestos fiber, cancerous
particle, irradiated isotope, sliver
of glass, peach pit, foam nugget,
stray hair, impinged corpuscle,
magnesium wad, metaphysical
quill or arrant stalk moored in him,
or what? Why was it so difficult to move
toward anything? Was his will congealed?

His doctor recommended an Arctic cruise.
He travels to a frozen stream, a frozen
lake, a frozen sea. He photographs the
awesome ice. A glacier calves inside him.

Bill Yarrow is the author of WRENCH (erbacce-press 2009). His poems have appeared in Central Park, Confrontation, Berkeley Poets Cooperative, Poem, The Literary Review, Mantis, Cabaret Voltage Online, The Orange Room Review, erbacce, blossombones, Angelic Dynamo, Counterexample Poetics, Gloom Cupboard, ditch, The Centrifugal Eye, Rio Grande Review, Up the Staircase, New Aesthetic, Pank and other literary magazines. He has poems forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Arsenic Lobster, and Poetry International. He lives in Illinois.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

4 poems by Nick Leland


Barbecue's back in the yard again, it's not taking orders,
I don't even know what he sees in her.
The meat is still meat, everyone is praying on food.

El means The for Him and
Crawdad crabs fighting black ants.
Fourth of fucked backwards is still a terrible thing to say to a young lady.

See the marbles? They're mason made aces.
Building a Williams and Sonoma saucepan out of bones isn't comforting.

Chills ain't too bad if you can get under someone else,
but they still leave a foul taste in your mind.
Save it till we're done littering.

Those roses aren't what I think they smell like,
ugly aureoles on a girl you were never interested in.
Gnash and devour them.

Caked on like it's already out of style,
Only one way she's viral: botulism sighted sir
we're making for land.

There's a lack of stone here that indicates
a lack of person.

Fat Foreign Family Seeks Fitness

Screech, soiled meat child, bolt
harried towards caloric revelation

exterminate the choclatier, flamethrowers
or inkwells, ardent hairless
for them
no eyebrows to spare

it's peace in the falafel chopping block
bragging on the pounds like the
british in the 90's, she strides

instinct driven daughters of revolutionary
leaders lack the lack and walk the walk.
Bring cheese, it's time.

Aged aereolas rhyme fruitlessly
hairs trickle down the sweat stained
He will have no strokes, old man.

Given up the hideous chase, creased ignominy
wastes so much time with scales and fish
the mackeral is still quite fatty.

Cleave to the beefs, the beets. Cut low
out of useless legerdemaine the choice
prime USDAssholes.

The Old Mundance

This was my home a few years ago.
The wet irritants of small town Missouri are fields of clay.
here is the building I slept in, loud and drab and old
Thomas Jefferson. Three north north.
and here is the fuckstained couch where she ended my first relationship
it smelled of vomit and beer and whimpering fear, quite the bouquet.

This was my home a few months ago.
The garish gray streets of New Orleans, a bright distilled hell.
this was my quiet apartment, with the gunshot commas
uptown is three lies, you were always walking uphill into a shitriver.
this is where I entranced
fairlocation friends with half lies

This was my home many years ago.
The burning stereophonic streets of Dallas
the house that shrank smaller around me, holes in walls and doors
I was angrier.
This is the room where I ended my second relationship.
the overhead fan is always running, there is one working lightbulb.
it's green.

and here, this is my home now.
It's filthy, with perverse warmth stifling the idiot cold of Chicago.
this chair, black leather, is comfort.
In this chair we will end my third relationship.
grand score to a mundane event.

Gesture south, and my arm stretches to three coasts.
This will be my new home soon, everywhereville
I will be subject of all I survey, the traveling saline man.
I'll dissolve smiling into the roads.
Steal every scrap of paper and cigarette butt and condom wrapper
and make a pretty little house out of it.

For the Dishonored Dead

Helen died four years ago.
The funeral was what we all expected,
family and a few friends clustered around a rainy hole.

Passing from this world was her greatest gift to it.
With a quiet end, she gave us all something
The brutal dowager,
Equal packets mourn her loss.

In candy green November Helen told my mom that her boys weren't family.
She was worried we would try to claim her inheritance
and she had the good sense to know that we weren't hers.

Tulsa, Oklahoma is always yellow.

Great depression sunflower summer and she told me
never to trust black people or Jews.
And then stole the aircraft
from my grandfather, Rowan.

He flew in parcel piecemeal planes, Frankensteins of the sky.
When his heart stuttered once, she told him he could never fly again.
And on the ground my grandfather stayed,
building planes he wouldn't fly.

They were very pretty, the planes.

I moved her from house to house twice, each time dutifully assisting Helen
in relocating all of her possessions, and my grandfather's as well.
She referred to me and my brother as “the dropouts.”

Helen bore plagues, carried them around with her
in a purse, so she could take them out and everyone could see.
Diabetes, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer.
She required a bag of Snickers bars and an audience just to make it through the day,
and her lungs were always in excellent condition when she had things to buy at the mall.

She liked shoes.

And then she died.
Helen had left no compensation for Rowan in her will, gifting her fortune instead to her Real children and grandchildren instead.
Rowan was given three months to vacate the house where he cared for her in her last days.

My grandfather Rowan needed new knees after her funeral.
His steps carried her weight still. He stumbled a little up the three steps into our house. Hobbled to the kitchen bar where the orange glass of tequila my brother had poured for him waited.
The old mechanic cried.

My brother and I bore the pall for her funeral at Rowan's behest.
We dressed somberly, we acted soberly.
I shaved.

It took quite some time.

We carried Helen to her rest with funereal dignity.
I stared at Rowan as he sniffed and coughed
and the pastor said nice things about my grandmother.

We smoked cigarettes outside the chapel after he was done.
The ride home was punctuated with little
declarations of joy from my family.
I stared out the window and thought of what I would trade flying for.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1 poem by Ben Lundquist

Indiana, 2006

He studied Bible at Wheaton College
He wants you to know that, son
piglips chewing cud
eyes blearing left, little girl on bicycle
studied Bible at Wheaton College,
just like your pops

Check wife like congress for right to war
right denied
smile and nod like military maneuver

Boat lilts too quick
Drag lake with a look, expecting ghosts
to pull him in
but his eyes keep blearing left
like he could turn pebbles to marbles,
send the bike skidding into algae

He hears you’re studying English
He clicks his tongue:
Son, what will my daughter live on?
beer-cooler-iced-hand kneading temples
eyes locked left, little girl in lake-ready bikini
studying English . . . say, son,
I love summer

Winks like handing over enemy papers
keep face blank
signal dead, no translator in headphones

Chicken urine gas hangs
Tyson plant chortles five miles away,
relishes juvenilia
but its floor manager is not amused
his wink has set his face into a pirate squint
his beer-cooler-iced-hand freezes to the oar

Sunday, October 18, 2009

4 poems by Felino A. Soriano

"Painters’ Exhalations 623
—after Beo Nguyen’s The Philosopher"

isolates in delineated function,
the naked from geometric abstraction

talking to summary of intelligent salvation. Answer


the tongue’s cohesive hankering.

Said to himself

“I do not understand the language of my neighbor,
but understand the vertical veracity
my hand-held yoyo
posits into a realm of
personal separation from time,

"Painters’ Exhalations 624
—after Mike Massengale’s Out of the Darkness"

Her strumming harmony
with winged liberation
uttered failed deconstruction.
vocalizes seismic
sliding the blonde hair
of Autumn’s nearing-end.

the personal concept
life within horizontal

ignites first words
into summarizing

"Painters’ Exhalations 625
—after Sue Duda’s Crazy Fingers"

With elaboration
the birthed is often

We’ll anticipate
vertical curves’
concrete expansion

we’ll analyze

pound echoes
remorse for inexact narration
misquotes with adequate ease.

Fingers, the curled
tone of constant reverberating hail,
to the watching fortune

is the constant mirage
glazing the eye with unobstructed


"Painters’ Exhalations 626
—after Donald Maier’s Backyard and Birdhouses"

Because quiet
is the best suited body
to sit within embrace of white,
outdoor chairs, and the roaming beneath
feet with cataract sight
can roam within glare of green’s slanted grass,
sectioning rooms
of the yard’s most elegant,
dilapidated region.

Felino A. Soriano (b. 1974, California), is a case manager and
advocate for developmentally and physically disabled adults. He has
authored 15 collections of poetry, including “Altered Aesthetics”
(ungovernable press, 2009), “Construed Implications” (erbacce-press,
2009), “Compositions of Integrated Commonalities” (Recycled Karma
Press, 2009), and “Various Angles of the Interpretation Paradigm”
(Shadow Archer Press, 2009). He edits & publishes Counterexample
Poetics,, an online journal of
experimental artistry, and Differentia Press,, dedicated to publishing e-chapbooks of
experimental poetry. He is also a contributing editor for Sugar Mule,, and contributing editor for Post: A Journal of
Thought and Feeling,
Philosophical studies collocated with his love of classic and
avant-garde jazz explains motivation for poetic occurrences. His
website explains further:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2 poems by Janie Gleason


Does it frighten you when I speak? Intricacy
in the shape of leaf-skeletons, the dry skin on
my lips, the pitch of my voice so high above
yours-- does it make you shiver to hear me?

My voice is sweet like a D.H. Lawrence fig,
it is round with the promise of my womb,
it is downswung like a child on a swing as I

make empty promises, laugh at you from
behind my hair. The calendar marks off days
the size of an eggcup; I fill them quickly with
the langour in my limbs, the way I can't make up
my mind. I talk to you in riddles: a peach, a pomegranate,
a meddler, a service tree.

And I am milk and you are cereal.
And I am bread; I am salt; I am
a paper you write on. We are
like all things that come in pairs--
we stir into each other at times like tea.
We query each other in furious stage-whispers.
Your hand looks knobby and awkward
next to mine.

Do you look down suddenly when you hear
my honey-mustard throating? What red-throated
hummingbirds know as they duck their needle-mouths
into the pitchers of flowers is what you still
have left to learn. There is not another like me
across five continents.

"Sun & Juniper Girl"

You're stuck in my eyes with a blanket
of gingham sky, locust leaves. You're stuck
in my hands with dandelion clocks, deer-berry
clearings, birch trees, sunlight.

You're stuck in my eyes; gears spin in the gasoline
heat but I'm on foot, trudging past the milk-bottled town.
The locals lean out of their porches to watch me pass.
I am ducking behind trees, spinning spiderwebs sky-green,
I am picking poplar leaves and smelling their yellowy green,
I am breaking up inside like an iceberg, melting
into the sweet sea-green of summer. I'm leaning
on the gate to the summer, hands in pockets
full of old smells.

You're stuck in my eyes.
The maple leaves of your soul lay
one-over-the-other like fish scales,
wrapping up the sap of my skin. I walk
barefoot on the stones that line the back-roads
of your heaviness. I swim underwater in the
lake that kicks back the pictures of the sky.
The clouds are cotton and the grass is
stinging, lingering like ants on our skin--
eventually I'll understand.

Janie Gleason writes from Bradford, Ontario with a cup of tea in one hand and dark brown French braids in her hair.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2 Poems by Max Glassburg

"Widows Say Goodbye"

Dye, she pounds the pitiful bruise
into a can of bruising, eye seething
what eyes seethe, when even nice eye trickling falls

she eats cool cans of dye—they thumb the night for her
cool sins of too much widowing. Widows no more, widows gone.

Think happy, like we ever think unhappy thorns,
when we think unhappy roses.

Then we dine in thorny dye on shirts, our
colors blend in the flower shape, and our thorns are gone

Aeneas gone, Aeneas over-done as final lines are never

Widows gone, as widows all are eventually ours
to say, this way I like a smooth feeling
washing sentiment on clouds
green pickles in a Jewish song,
Passover moonlights enlighten drifting cowboy eyes

for Jewish names and old damn toy-store peaks
her friends say he’s always speaking
for the dye, a fidget-freezing one… three commas in, he’s still speaking …
for her again and eyes see them all eyes see them again

For Jewish girls still make porno drinks
for priests like us, and widows won’t let go widows
in Aeneas frozen o’er wormwood dye, goodbye
Aeneas good, goodbye.

"Without Usura (after Ezra Pound)"

Without usura, no stone cut hath a market,
each effort spit in sand
and delight in the spit will smear thine starving Christian child’s face—

without usura

still no paradise, still no ancient’s greed
for fucking unfulfilled, all fucking around.
Virgins all, incisions basted
in fine stagnation, all harpes SPIT et luthes
in the plague—

without usura

the heirs multiply in fashion
for queens to swallow royal come
for quickly, quickly summation come—

without usura, CHRISTIAN man
is a JEW man, is a stale JEW man
like his flat bread, without haste,
papyrus only, simple suckers—simple suckers—

without usura, Shylock, why?

Without usura—it’s all too clear
the dwellings won’t move.
Stone cutters trade for corn
weavers eat whiskey meat on a birthday dish—


wool is rare.
Sheep are thin in the field.
A murrain muses on blessings, calves sip their manure—

heroin stock is opium’s only cattle
again the weaver’s prick their gorged bellies.

A house divided stood, in usura
Ban Ki Moon set without it, for free—
Liberia killed my ma without usura, and I’ll vote for it there!
Farts are all without usura.
McDonald’s found a cheaper meat, sans usura.

Dickens paid with usura.
Adamo me!
Adamo me!
and Obama swiftly charged
Adamo me!
Adamo me!

Qua vos es , illic mos Fio, with usura’s pinch—

Usura slayeth gardens of filth, of Christian belonging
with USEFUL sickness in the court, twisted broker tree vines eradiate
symptom by symptom, everyone by everyone else,
equal us, all for all or more.
No friendship filth, none of that; the canker, please.

Usura rusts us like machines, but we need what rusts.
It slayeth sickness, what once was health.
Sex is always, and usura is penetration—
marriage avows to sanctify the rust, at least it sanctifies here.

I guess… we live in sin.

They have brought whores for Chicago
moping prisoners in moving necessitation

yes, I guess. We live at your behest.

1 Poem by Charles Brooks III


Bird and Dizzy bound out of the doghouse

like fuming dialogue between enemies.

Flaring from a short-lived brotherhood,

captains of beatnik, Bird didn’t fly.

Outcasts, cotton became concerts

where white people sat in the back

looking over noble, black heads.

Genuine men made hurricanes sing.

Latin America, Cuban licks succeeded in

thickening a viscous music that keeps

euphony thrust upward, never lonely,

accepted on its own in blown cheeks and bent brass.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1 Poem by Michael Bernstein

that March...

...that day
in the freeze:
doors out to
bare earth,
coughs in the
lenscap Dark.
the cups they
hold boil&
float each
time you
speak,give it
away.its kind
of like being
a doctor
said.hands ra-
ttle windows,
cinders revved
for lack of
left,we seek
the last close
livid in the
dead storm

Micheal Bernstein is the author of two chapbooks. His work appears in numerous magazines. He currently edits the online lit magazine Pinstripe Fedora.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2 Poems by Sylvia Sullivan


In the cool morning light,
a body draped limply over the unmade bed
and an arm angled up and back,
making shadows tickle the wall.
The shoulder blade gave way.
Inevitable, then, that the palm met
the seeming lenience of the mattress.

Anxious teeth had peeled away cuticle
and red irritation interrupted the beige of
rayon and flesh.
I drew in five fingers –
these the taut panels of an umbrella,
opening and closing with a raincloud –
and felt the ribbings’ minute vibrations
against my fingertips,
fortuitous murmurs of an oracle.

I pressed hard, middle and forefinger,
into a seam-strapped hill.
The shadowy indentation between the two,
an absence coalescing into connection,
and the force crawling up through the forearm,
paradoxical in its initial effortlessness.

The slammed door shattered
spongy mountain hypnosis.
The forearm muscle collapsed and
the shadow snapped.

I glanced up.
My frame cast out another shadow
along polyester plateaus,
but across the way
waiting to meet it
there was no other body.

“Descending Desert”
What is this place,
Where strange double suns
Mesh and meld and become one deliquesced globule?
Proof of heliocentrism, rigorous and unquestionable,
Overwhelming and blinding.
Dune melts away underneath – a struggle up Sechuran seif –
And frantic arms flung against an aeolian inevitability.
Deaf from the granular accumulation in the helix,
Itchy as it slithers and piles in the navel.
Still is a fatalistic attraction,
A frame clung to the scalding, shifting Sossusvlei.
Phoebean radiance grips the gaze and gnaws the backside.

Suddenly, so suddenly, the ridge,
Painstakingly carved, thin engraving.
A memory of tumbling joyously and miserably over
Into the shadow of otherside.

And then only a pleasurable after-tingle
And a thumb,
Tracing an aleph in the cool sand.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1 Poem by Jonathan Soboleski


She is only a memory.
The men crowd at her feet as,
I am told, they always have,
But now without flowers.
Now they bring tools and machines to do
Things tools and machines can never do.

One uses a swab to brush dirt from her lips,
Revealing the remnants of an ancient smile.
Another, uses a small pick to clean the cracks
Running up her legs and arms.
The restorers work diligently
To preserve what is left, as best they can.

Perhaps as they work,
The men wonder what she looked like
All those years ago; when she was new.
Cut and painted with love by her sculptor,
Her body was born in dance,
Her right hand brandishing a spear of victory
From some forgotten war, or love.
The men work and wonder what has been lost.
Or maybe they do not.
Maybe it is only a job.

Now, centuries removed from her time
The men scramble to prop her up,
For whatever reason.
Her dance has crumbled into a writhe,
And the arm that once gripped a spear
Grips nothing, only reaching out.
Her eyes are blank, old dust.
The colors faded years ago.
The men have done a good job
Keeping her this way.

Jonathan Soboleski lives in St. Louis, MO. Writes occasionally.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

3 Poems by Garrett Johnson

“Electric Heat: Hat Rack by Winter’s Door”

Might start to see the unearthed,
the shackles that show when
some upright stance wakes up
and nothing but grey streamers drag in Following.

Might start to quiver, but not dead and not even.
The shackles are what you want to be a mirage.
Morning comes, brings a torch that shines a light
to a carpet of astronomy where the planets are dilated-
here, facades are only sleeping soundly in the basement.

You found pleasure swinging between branches
of the most unkempt and spiky nests-
it vomits all on all of the screen doors,
until you know where the smell takes you.

Glaciers where you can't see the humans.
But now there is a point at which
a finger can touch
an actual chin, an actual shoulder.
Mustn't leave this place, this once-known now in the re-making.

You, aboard the crest of alcoves.
You may have uncorked the nook.

“Counting Blessings”

Counting blessings by the metallic fireside,
down, down,
a motor stranded on a desert island
desires fruition and multiplies
by foam and barnacle

and wrappers swept away by fish.
We look under the sea
and find a large being asleep,
cradled in a cold band of amber needles,
suspended just a few feet above the floor
of this body of water,

and we count our blessings
in the pent up cameras
and monikers of wrappers swept away by fish.

An answer becomes an imprint
in the idle embassy, a portrait made to be cast underneath

morphing shields.

“Furnace Prayer”

He who searches for what is not lost yearns to kiss the napes of the nameless, only to find that they are torn just like he is, and their names are embroidered in gold beyond trees and lines.

Silence is restored through what may not just be mere politeness, and dialogue, which is usually the sanctuary of circles, turns out to be a diagonal line. The lightning bolt of love becomes imprisoned in a comfort not known to bestial indifference. Nameless deeds become imprisoned the hierarchy of odds, maneuvered in seemingly desolate areas.

Oasis, I escape you in favor of a trance, and without time you become a rock to carry on the shoulder, never straying from the skin, and with that I feel a wholeness.

To which I reply, "effaces cleanliness."

How dare I retaliate with a useless word, but feeling like the straw is hatched and there is only time to win, I count the minutes and patiently sit by the furnace. My heart goes out to you, oh achiever of namesake, for the bearing of suffering does not include death.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

5 poems by Levi Wagenmaker


'the redneck bird'

the redneck bird as it flies
utters one and the same
not in any way melodious cry
only when it lands on a roof
is it (ominously) silent
it stealthily bears portents to those
in or in the vicinity of the house
covered by such a roof

a redneck bird seen sitting on a roof
in the early morning
(or sitting unseen on a roof well before noon)
means that should a virgin reside
under that same roof
she cannot but soon lose
her virginity

in the absence of a virgin
a man present under that roof
will lose all the hair growing on his private parts
(or should they be bald his private parts themselves)
(or should he already have lost those somehow all his money)
(or should he be poor his fingers toes ears and nose)

redneck birds are very superstitious
and invariably believe it to bring bad luck
if one fails to land on a roof in the early morning
(or at least well before noon)

redneck hens are the only birds known
to lay clutches of eggs
(up to twelve dozen of them)
(but never on roofs)
so that it is not to be wondered at
that even fairly juvenile virgins
are rarely found under any roof
and if at all



'cycle of rain'

rain and a bicycle
falling and I riding it
wearing dark-blue cotton
trousers seat of the pants
a moist patch from the saddle
sucking clouds while waiting outside
with nothing better (or else) to do

where thighs fill fabric
parallel to sky and earth only
halfway through the piston-stroke
movement of pedalling
diaphanous raindrops darken
dark-blue to almost black
where they strike in random patterns
striving for saturation

the affinity of wet cotton for skin
(or of skin for natural fibres
taking on water)
is much in evidence
in little enough time

riding a bicycle through the rain
(scientists have found)
should leave the cyclist and the bike
less drenched
than getting up speed
distance added to the relative equations
soon enough evens out
the difference given steady rainfall

especially when it rains
the kind of bicycles designed to enable
the cyclist to ride belly-up
is supposed to provide a more laid back impression
(the way dead fish do


so Poe

an all night bar
next to me she
sat she said you
are so lovely
she tried to kiss me full
on the mouth but missed
and got back onto
her cloud of Patchouli
she was twice my age (or more)
as well as twice my weight (or more)
I was embarrassed more than amused
remembering I find myself
more amused than embarrassed
time is in full swing
the water under the bridge
has almost run dry
since the days that I could fail
to be kissed full on the mouth
by a woman twice my age

bring on the raven


'90% perspiration'
(for Belle)

a website featuring photos
of persons requesting to be rated
hot or not
should feature hot young women
in sufficient numbers
to fill a medium-sized private swimming-pool
with their sweat
especially on a sultry day like this
with all the hot young women wearing
winter clothes and no deodorant
of the 'dry' variety
to hamper productivity

they would be only too happy to remove
their clothes and there would be no lack
of volunteers to wring them out
and others to empty the buckets
in which the copious sweat would have been
collected into the pool's open maw

and only then would I
make my entrance
(to loud cheers of long live the scientist)
(wearing tight-fitting red swimming-trunks)
and patently patiently
would I wait for the basin to be filled

once filled to capacity
I would gently and fluently
immerse myself and turn my red-trunked body
over on its back
and if as I would expect
I would float in that pool of hot young women's sweat
cheers would become deafening
no doubt

the small effort of writing these lines
on this sultry stuffy day
under a darkening sky soon to be fiercely lit up
by flashes of lightning
adding their touches to the music of my day-dream
brought sweat to my skin

I wish it were yours


'trivial pursuit'

it happens
that a snatch of trivial text
embedded in a tune to match
referred to rather grandly as
will trot in circles round and round
banalities spun out too long
for anything remembered willy-nilly
with overly obvious rhyme
for its reason

it happened this morning
in spite of
because of
the grey noise of a low-noise

but the annoyance bit the dust
when the suck-all contraption's
suction tube
(not the part of it made up
of flexible plastic hose
but metal barrel bare of muzzle)
clanged against a cast iron
central heating radiator on a wall
in what could only be
a randomly generated rhythm
but by chance suggesting
a much-loved Portuguese fado

sweeping under the carpet
Connie Francis
to make way for
Dulce Pontes

sorry Connie fans
it can't very well be said
that preferences are

nothing personal

Levi Wagenmaker
(1944 - ) is a retired journalist, living in the Netherlands
for most of the year, and in France for some of it, with three bitches, two
of whom are dogs. Enamoured life-long of language (and languages), for
reasons immaterial to the act he writes poetry in English only, even if he
could most likely manage it in a few other tongues. His poems have been
published on line more than in print, and Google will tell the curious what,
where, and when.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

4 poems by Connie Michener

“Rough Start”

I tried to find the proper inflection to make the
word have the right ridges on the key-edge, to offer the
leverage, torsion, to twist over the tumbler
to popstart the engine, I'm banging on the starter
with the handle of the jack, standing on the air filter
turning the ignition trying to generate the sparking
get the firing going the engine purring, Hwhat!?!?
Speak damn you say what it is, what makes you
because I have always been willing, just cut the
crap all the time because I want this to run well,
and quiet, the endless whining


We had ridden forever
our every waking moment
pedalling through rolling dells,
a long thread being drawn out
behind us and in front of us is
the mass of tangled darkness
our bicycles as spinning wheels
making fiber into bound yarns
of memory, somewhat crystalline
and somewhat pliable yet fixed,
malleable, to be made into stories
we had yet to fully discover
the stretch through time and space
here, a long taut thread
setting our range from coast to coast
we were far-ranging animals on machines,
machine animals;
our purpose was to be far-ranging, to see
far, to live just about everywhere, to have done it.
The messy jumble of the to-and-fro daily life
of running in the same circles again and again
was untangled somewhat, or the knots
pulled to tightness, the organization of
our thoughts on the recognition of
the necessities in the constantly unfamiliar
and we rode as if
we had dropped from the sky riding
we had come from nowhere, from over the
horizon of yesterday, from the between times
and we were born like this and
we had always been like this
and this is what we knew
which was everything.
We found our way and we threw ourselves in
ditches or rested on banks of fog on in the swirling
eddies of rivers when we could find them.
Yes pain and hunger, but the moving, the keep-going,
the absorption through all senses the experience.
Nothing else was, Nothing else mattered
the rumination of bottom brackets and miniscus
and the throwdown of the derailleur and
we just were is how we came to be and
sense only had to be made
later on.

“Bay of Alexandria”

[You] pull me up from the depths
With your winch still powered by
synthesized energy siphoned
from, after all, my own will
I feel the turbulence and exhaustion
Turbulence that tells me yes, still feel
at the farthest capillaries and endings
From the heart and nerve center, still.
And I don’t know what will happen when
The salt water soddenness leaves me
Will I be
Dessicated in the ambient breeze.
Or sputter toward an even growl.
Hearsay the chatterings
To know which is small talk
and which is big
Nothing from nothing, as you say
“And not of taking it for more than what is it
Not of the wrongs-taking
Don’t take it badly or not of
Encouragement of
any meaning to it at all”
Is was all heard from others;
The turbulence, the drag.
The equation on the paper
Seems to work yes,
So to double-checking the maths.
Rush the gun barrel from the side
And let go the connections the
Overstated compatibility of the makings before
The trickle-charge half-livings
of feed the captive.


Off-throwing of all the jibber-jabber
And of the hearsay and the endless
Ask of the forgivings the drain funnel
Into former repository of sadness,
Is of to turn out, pour into the
Wind of blowing away ash of never true.

Is of a thing the time of makings-
Decision the feel of comfort the
Matter negotiations
So many the deals never so good as now.

Not of mean shrink from the extension
But had need pause of the moment
Examine new tools of unfamiliar the
Manner of usage

And run quickly into the past collect
Pieces left behind scatter far and wide
The fight and flee. Runnings of outrun
The intense, maddening battle the shredding
Cast off of the detriment and essential
Alike in confusion of boundaries, no boundaries,
A crumpled balled map blown open
By the wind, rained on, run through by cars.

Break trust the notion that I cannot see for myself
As much stop believe the reports of supposed aids.
Slip the sleeve the jacket of champion
of the undeserved and false morality
and of tribal duty that asks blindness
excepting of the flash of precision the action
from the short list of condoned, the good of all.
And of make blind the seeing of forced looking
The wrong direction of now the search
The speartip and examination of [direction].

Stopping short the manufacture of whitewash
The pieces; I am not made of wood nor stone
Not so the interchangeability and break taboo
the make comparison formerly of mere politeness
is the erasure of my limbs.

Is no mastermind evil genius of makings the
Dark woods bad, and hence no other of
Equal the opposite value of makings felty.
No one to tell us what to do, only to listen.

Is only of the trail and error
And the pressings of on
And of the go and see
And of the here and now.


Connie Michener is a writer and designer currently living near Boston. These poems are from her chapbook "Hiccough of Wonder."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

3 poems by Char Barker


punk music like seeds has
the codes for a new movement
curled up inside your
hard candy shells.

Kiss me now, 'cause there's no such thing as private
living from toast to toast
under the branches of normal conversation
we play poker with ideas for our cards


Open the blinds and drink with the lights off
take in what ever your eyes can find room for
the world seems large but the skyline is shrinking
cut into by cities, and streetlights, and stars.

the ground is alive, overrun by congestives
that burrow, like roots, to make room for themselves
the cunning are culled, information is bleeding
let your questions reach up to the indentured sky.

“hello neighbor”

We are the gypsys of your city:
homeland's sons, yet
we move uninterrupted;
brush your charity
with thieves' marks on our silver hands

Charlot Barker is a 23 year old gentleman living in the San Francisco Bay Area and making a life for himself despite having an effeminate name. He has been writing poetry his entire life, but has only recently begun doing other things like painting and studying guerrilla psychology. He retains confidence in his uniqueness in the face of overwhelming improbability, and fully intends to take over the world or whatever part of it he can.

Friday, August 21, 2009

2 poems by Zachari J. Popour

“t.v. dinner for 1”

under certain lighting
the blank screen has the ability to disembowel you
more thoroughly
than a Harmony Korine screenplay
these reflections have a tendency to validate truths
that we don’t want to believe
like the grooves along our foreheads
insinuating the awkwardness in fundamental frowns
and hush betrayal
conclusions are not limited to names and dates only
and the sun does not rise nor set
it’s as stationary as the empty lot
where Elizabeth Short’s one dollar dream was cut in half
and paid out in fifty cent increments
at the corner of twice the woman
and half the appeal
her buck knife smile has stigmatized the char lines
on my salisbury steak
which now resides somewhere south of edible
the tide is not all that turns
put-on speculations put-up rumors
and point blank lies are veneers put over our blind spots
they are necessary cosmetics for the survival
of ventriloquists
and the forever children throwing voices
and surrendering to herdsmen
who don’t have the decency to curtsy before a fleecing
ride the coattails of another's expectations
long enough
and you’ll find yourself either holding the sheers
or taking alms for your innards

“rhythmic horse feathers”

come dance with us!
they say

timing existential undulations to
1 and 2 and 3 and 4
with an air of subdivision

hickeys on the neck of a midlife crisis

my pit-stained undershirt prompts
for future reference
to more desirable outcomes

i challenge the wall to a staring contest
and lose

come dance with us!
they say

snapping antagonistic cryptograms
between their fingers

tightrope the power lines with
a pocket full of

we want you to shock us

i pantomime stasis so well
that the act itself
is worthy of copyright protection

waltzing my way past the ridicule
in ¾ time

Zachari J. Popour was born April 11th, 1985 and is a lifelong resident of Huron County, Michigan. He has been featured both online and in print in such publications as 3:AM Magazine, Kill Poet, Gloom Cupboard, and Hemingway’s Shotgun. Zach is just like you, him, her, them; both the best and worst person in the world.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 poems by Robert Chrysler


where ions to contralto a fattened heart of centuries: piano dogs, machines and hair still crying about two sexes then three at the margins: an abracadabra, for example, lakes we survive as ovarian guitars, sandstorms eroding mounds of bland, overly-detached text: esoteric the lungs, the atom's glamour in the face of this journey's squared, bitter hallelujah: brides of fish the only motion away from this profligate map

"In The Augmented Hour (Frozen #9)"

Rain denies itself, arpeggios what has been fired through this nascent dimension, its crown your own darkness against the glass, now clinging to drink, the city's dada. Swirls of energy left behind in abandoned rooms, piles of drying, jaundiced eyeballs, all will become the sense of travelling over piano keys: the jewelled children are laughing at what you gave to me.

The streets are fur, silver chalices falling forward from the regal lap into a recognition of air, a series of orange fingers you enjoy reading to whatever makes the glacier appear to exist in time. It's inside melting windows, where the contours of your face stretch fleeing oceans, plumes strewn across experience, then the skin of midnight again.

And beating with illusions, helios merely a number for each tower that remembers what it said to the mud, utopias of swiftness, a new code that folds back an interior you once called the eternal leonine. Crumpled octaves aren't Havana, though, glass bellies the noun of days but theorized, not transfigured, fifths we could taste and touch. Crazy celestials smile inside themselves, our mists interacting with the basket of cobras like any passion and terrestrials its moistened periphery, crying what we and everyone else knows.

"This Octopus Includes Children"

Astounding, whose flight has silence. Devour her logic's hour.

'Do you like it?' A shining, loneliness. The icy of photograph. Thyroid glances vanished. Elongated. Either end (an eye before trailing from the mountain), blonde has always been brief time. Jewelled thrones distracted, transcends mere bone. Numbers the world, all tenuous, as in a sky's deepest heart to a dualism spiral.

No, into a trace of the afternoon, her secret. The more sex to save a phenomenal world on what is and turn inside out on her twenty years to completely predict post-modern hips.

Watery nothings lives only for androgyny, relative to raised skirts, the ship's window.

Robert Chrysler is an inspired subway-ranter from Toronto, Canada. He enjoys challenging capitalist property relations, trying to figure out what the post-structuralists are going on about, and dreams of someday living in a tree.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2 poems by Keith Higginbotham

"Alex Trebek's Moustache"

i wonder if anyone noticed
last night on jeopardy
that alex trebek
had a moustache
until the commercial break
about halfway through
the show

did someone say
the moustache just isn't working
and maybe made him
shave it off

or perhaps
looking in the monitor
i want to have
a different look
for the rest
of the show

these are the mysteries
of our times

"The N-Word"

Benjamin said the n-word
in class the other day

He went to the neo-Nazi rally
last weekend at the state capitol, which
he kept calling “the court house”
for some odd reason
and no one bothered to correct him

Not that Benjamin is a real neo-Nazi or anything
He’s a “liberal,” which around here
means the same as You Fucked My Wife
but Benjamin is a good guy and he
would never fuck my wife even if I had one

So Benjamin was talking about how
he hated the neo-Nazis and the reason he
went there in the first place was to oppose them
and then he quoted one of the neo-Nazis:
“We need to get rid of the n-word.” Only he
didn’t say “n-word”; he said the actual n-word

So why did a sweeping shard of guilt
come Jerry Falwelling through my
midsection? I didn’t say the n-word;
Benjamin said it
But am I, as Benjamin’s “superior” supposed
to kick him out of class, reprimand him
although he used the n-word in a derogatory
fashion not against the enemies of
the neo-Nazis but to the neo-Nazis themselves,
or feed him to the lions?

This is getting pretty complicated, but
I started to wonder about my safety
and whether my Buddist-like passiveness might
just land me in jail, or worse
bad student evaluations, even though most of them
don’t know what the Internet is

And what the hell is offensive anyway
I’m offended by the g-word, the j-word
the k-word, the z-word. Come to think of it,
I’m pretty much offended by
all words

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What is this? and Submission Guidelines

The Balloon is an online blog for poetry. We look to publish poetry that is new, exciting, literary, innovative, and just about any positive adjective you can attach to the word "poetry." We are looking to publish poems by new poets as well as more established writers.

We have no preference for style or content, just send your best work. The selection process is, needless to say, completely subjective.

Also feel free to send essays/critical pieces on poetry and poets.

But we are open to other tastes.

Submission Guidelines:

Send 1-5 poems to the editor at:
The subject line should read "Submission to The Balloon."

Either put poems in the body of the e-mail or send as .doc files.

Simultaneous submissions are fine. Each poet receives his or her own post with the poems accepted.

Please allow 1-2 weeks for a response.

Hope to read you soon.

Your Editor,
Connor Stratman