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: 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
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

Monday, March 12, 2012

3 poems by Cynthia Spencer


It was said that one falls only from heights, but there is

a sound in this that catches on a carving of a vertebra, and

folds gloved hands in church, and asks the water to take the

rocks and the ice to break against the ice, and rushes

over itself in waves, leaving splinters and claiming what it could.


It's this slow unraveling, this
game of chicken, you look away first,
then I'll look away. My impossible
paper cut easy into shapes
that carry water up hills, and down,
hanging from sticks across
bone-vaulted sweat-shine,
breathe out sick now.

Your cold,
sore knees. Your impossible
stomach keeping you
awake where a corner of the moon,
a skintight pie wedge, uncovers
a flaw in the painted window
and illuminates the white of
your shot, shocked, open-lashed


Ever unkempt in monsoon season,
with a smirk and a lean back,
and a right hand smoking Nazi
cock and left handed stories falling
down stairs into the color of
a bruised apple, cheekbones
cold, flushed from the wind
on the way home, followed,
bliss, to babydoll suffocation
and thinking it means something.

Cut back mild and semi-blind
break-necked out but baby
hangs around, not quite
nocturnal now is the
summer of our

the touch is too easy and all
I want is for you to keep me honest
what with overflow, loose-lipped
travesty of overwrought boredom,
innard bath.

I listen cause I say I wanna know
everything, blubbering haircut
staying near my old friend's brother's
high school fuck bunny
whose eyeliner really is impeccable.

I know you feel tall under the low ceiling,
steely eyed and toeless holding to the tilt
the floor up overhead discarded beer cans collect
in the rafters and rain down drops of cheap
dissatisfaction. It's a slaughter without regard,
decaying gratitude and undercooked
poorly lit one-drum town face pretty like.

Cynthia Spencer is the author of the poetry chapbook in what sequence will my parts exit (plumberries press, 2011). She is a founding member of the poetry collective Velvet in-Between and organizes the reading series Cloudburst in Milwaukee, WI.