Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Poem by Karla Linn Merrifield

Another Ars Poetica

It started with Picasso's La poete mirroring her bad acid-trip

A Baudelairian butterfly sipped from folds in the gray fleurs du mal--
set to acquiescence, heart beaten to Chopin's funeral march in Opus 35,
succumbed; but she learned junkets to Cuba don't make a Cubist of a spongy
She ends up back in Miami in mixed media, content to imitate art, whatever.

A nine-time Pushcart Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had over 500 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has eleven books to her credit, the newest of which Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing), a sequel to Godwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry.  She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (, a member of the board of directors of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, the Florida State Poetry Society, and TallGrass Writers Guild.  Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet,

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Poem by Sheikha A.


My spirit is the name of horcrux --
a bait on a curved needle --

things that haunt haven't a home
other than things like us;

it isn't easy to watch stars grow bones;

their faces have carved into odd designs
from having sampled one too many; I would know

from having watched pieces fall off
my face, like a discoloring on seepaged walls

a thousand ways to see
a thousand ways to feast

to get visited on the wall by the beds,
an axe lifted for assault,

but the eyes too hollow for reading,
and especially when the intent is bound

in muslin meant for burying
fates -- if one of the components used

was a tooth from a hairless mammal,
and a bark sharper than the blade of the axe's --

the hooded haunt holding my body down
must want something else.

Sheikha A. hails from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates.  With over 60 publications in various print/online publications such as Red Fex, Ygdrasil, A New Ulster, The Penmen Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Poetry Pacific, Mad Swirl to name a few, and many anthologies.  She has also authored a short poetry collection titled, Spaced (Hammer and Anvil Books, 2013) available on kindle.  Her poems have also been recited at two separate poetry reading events held in Greece.  She edits poetry for eFiction India.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Poem by John W. Sexton

The Complete Box of Heaven

The Complete Box of Heaven arrived in the post.
On every single side of the parcel were the words:


The parcel was slightly crushed on one side.
On the removal of the brown parcel-paper I found
a single box that could be opened on any side.
On each side was a large number, the same
on ever single side:


"It's got six written all over it," I told my mother.
"No," she said.  "That's the number nine.  You're
looking at it upside down.  Nine is a sacred number."

Inside the box were nine other boxes.
"See," said my mother.  "I told you it was the number
nine.  Nine is the number that Heaven adds up to."

Once outside of their box, the nine boxes
appeared much bigger than the box they'd arrived in.
Along with the boxes was a sheet of instructions.
The instructions explained that the individual boxes
each contained a different aspect of Heaven.

Box one contained the Void.  Box two contained the Word.
Box three contained the Waters.  Box four contained the Angels.
Box five contained the Firmament.  Box six contained the Dome.
Box seven contained the Days.  Box eight contained the Nights.
Box nine contained the Mystery.

The instructions were very specific.  Do not open box one
before box three.  Do not open box six before box five.
Do not open box four before box six.  Do not open box eight
before box seven.  Do not open box seven before box six.
Do not open box six before box four.  Do not open box four
before box three.  Do not open box three before box seven.
Do not open box seven before box one.  Do not open box one
before box eight.  And under no circumstances whatsoever
open box nine until all the other boxes are opened.

"What box should I open first," I asked my mother.
"Any box really," she said, "just as long as it isn't the box
that you shouldn't open before the box
you shouldn't open it before."

"Mother, that's not helping," I said.
"Just listen," she said.

"I can't hear anything," I said.
"That's exactly what you're listening for," she said.

We sat there in silence, all of Heaven before us.
But we were no closer to it then
than we were before it had arrived in the post.

John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013).  He also created and wrote The Ivory Tower for RTE radio, which ran to over one hundred half-hour episodes from 1999 to 2002.  Two novels based on the characters from this series have been published by the O'Brien Press:  The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed, which have been translated into both Italian and Serbian.  He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem "The Green Owl" won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007.  Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Three Poems by Vernon Frazer

Dressed to Collect

  rent vapor a mirage
doubling razors caught
                     while calypso circuits
                   blend into facet glands

narrative flares flashing pineal
mirrors whitewash the malediction
            that hints collateral witness
     shared half-time swallowers bereft
        flume dimension bandits
        haunt the formal apron corners

            (testaments to radio bluster)

        recumbent declaratives waking
                          homely phenomena tokens

maple rung declaratives
transform polarities before mop gestures

      dispensing subterfuge
      walk vortical across a wood eponym

no lining, no listing, sly lacing
       applicable to historic intervals

           in leather tempo gadget swagger

Delivering the Music

the postmark that got away
replied no sending firm attached
or matter
               to the subway
     stationed             at last roll
            blithely to oblivion


aiming at the train stop
no message              detached
ambeince in card charade

    patio affirmation      a reflux insurgent
no aromatic emblem           attacked
                                     the gastric epitome


no disincentive     urgently packing
                      to stay

              a                  while
        packet               surges
        ahead                destroying
          the track
                        least afforded


reaching digestive entropy
the rage in the gut dispersing

lettered pages
                 of leather intention

     silver studs
     left there for the beating to dry
                   the hand played
the frayed cuffs
      melody               cleverly left
                  as origin

              and destination

Solo Camaraderie

delirium as its sub-glottal potentate
portends the viper's grim ascent
through hitching catacomb securities
no crack too small to writhe though
and deliver the fangs of awareness
when throttled gorges prove munificent
beyond spectral revolution pudding
clarified as butter in a milkstorm fog
attenuated leaflet foliage autumnal
in the nominative plural of its craggiest
rocks turn to pilfer sonata seepage
derelicts at roadside fumigation stands
their twisted enmity a baleful glance
turned hay under the reaper's path
no delaying the transformation deluge
or beluga dreams shelled a casing
the weeping carnage left bedeviled
circuits to enter the contrary demotic
for emblematic weeping as muttered
under the swelling casement seal
humidity posing under its strong suit
veiled the kelp fractures a wall away
from the shore-worn port of entity
where no shopping intruders allow
an affair among ruins to fester long
in the aftermath treaty of harelips
gone hunting tainted vesicle rumors
that launched the greater velvet trial
verbose as its aged seekers claim
re-presents the pastime glory back
from the day it never happened
that way no respite from the nattering
stored for playing poker-faced stud
drawn with a half-stacked deck in hand
or clip as chosen or preferred to ride
shotgun as a native pellet sunning
chronic pellet arrears as bullets
when the hedges slow their lyric
trudge against the beveled wind
revised under begrudging trials
that later falsified their intrusion
proclamations abound irrational
pudding lepers seek hands out
to the presently stretched as limits
will go farther when never tested
the clipper's glide an afterthought
pledged as a blind sequel dotage
offered androgynous surface dwellers
a handout where the tunnel meets
excessive heat residual mouthwash
in a darkened preference setting
sea mambo escalades to banish
all nocturnal menu supplements
rutting with a renewed disposal
dial all the chattering party callers
to burst their lineage circuitry
before the next apartment drone
defrays the cost of empty protocol
wipers left their unseemly surging
under a cry for curious drivel claims
renewed evocative misunderstanding
in cults that waver by definition
for shark indulgence pamphlets
gone the way of dividend rehearsals
whisper their sloppy matrix buttons
hammer the new rehearsal fabric
smithing the iron to its dungeon core
while dissidents stammer vacation
breezes residential duct wipes home
to pass the vantage past fried nights
to comb a vestige over its last run
hiding old futures in the gene cleft
trying new gospels though fruition
seeds she old bones with tuna
scenes weathering the clipboard
sergeants circling the motor pool
to view the diorama speaking true
tire legends when they brag of rubber
from solitary recreation days in port

Vernon Frazer's most recent books of poetry include Selected IMPROVISATIONS, T(exto)-V(isual) Poetry and Unsettled Music.  Enigmatic Ink has published Frazer's new novel, Field Reporting.  Frazer's website is  Bellicose Warbling, the blog that updates his web page, can be read at  His work, including the longpoem, IMPROVISATIONS, may also be viewed at  In addition to writing poetry and fiction, Frazer also performs his poetry, incorporating text and recitation with animation and musical accompaniment on YouTube.  Frazer is married.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Three Poems by Christopher S. Knodel

Parasite's Host

                           Silent.  Hidden.
           Feasting.  Reproducing.  Excreting.
Strengthened.  Buttressed.  Exhausted.  Weakened.
                 Fading.  Strangling.  Dying.
                       Skeletal.  Bloated.


The Drink

      Some people say I have
      a drinking problem.  I am
      merely living life the way
    I know how.  Each morning.
    I'll have a snifter of brandy.
    At lunch, I'll enjoy a couple
      of beers with the boys.  Is
        that so wrong?  It does
              not affect my
                 work or
         I think I'd know
        If I had a problem.


Lady Death

   She smiles, and passes him a pinot noir.
      He sips his, admiring her boudoir.
            He hasn't known her long,
                 felt her siren song,
                    and followed
                      her back
                       her lair.
                    Her dark hair
                and lashes frame a
           face so stunning, it masks
       her cunning.  He gags then, from
 the arsenic.  The black widow kills again.


Christopher S. Knodel is an author, poet and ultra-distance runner in San Antonio, TX.  He is a freelance journalist and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.  His poetry and short fiction have been featured in The Asses of Parnassus, Ealain (MPA Publishing), The Wolfian, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Zodiac Review and Zombie Logic Review.  He can be easily spotted by his kilt, tattoos and six inch, flaming-red, Van Dyke goatee.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Poem by Bill Jansen

The Reunion

O infinite virtue, com'st thou smiling from the world's great snare 

                                                -- Anthony & Cleopatra

Here and there an interesting fact.
Facts like Viagra-sniffing dogs
jumping up on people at my 50th High School Reunion.
The rose-gray eyes of a part Apache girl
you could have asked to girl friend
but the density of your 17 year old mind
would stop the armor piercing shell of a Panzer tank.

But I am probably already sinning against the facts.
A mask of Phaedra was not passed around.
No one I heard was discussing concussion syndrome.
The reunion was comfortable.
The venue fluid, relaxed on wide masonic lawns.
Only a total squirt would have transferred
this gathering of gentle, forgiving souls
to a drive-in movie playing without sound,
their giant selves making love on the screen.
There was nothing remarkable about my name tag.
There was no aversion to the painful eternal words:
vere et tu ex illis es.

Maybe that's my problem.
There is no problem:  just facts.

And while I'm in the mood
I might as well confess there were no surreal madrigal gum
stuck like the periods at the end of our lives
to the underside of picnic tables
about which my aged classmates sit forever
making factual conversation.

Bill Jansen lives in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

Where in the world am I without °?
No other notation measures up
to my °, superscript hero.
° gives me latitude and longitude:
N43°.37”         W78°.08”—
° coordinates the geography of home.
I’m not lost.
° adorns numerals to indicate
the angle of afternoon repose: 45°.
I’m napping.
°, of 360°, perfects the circle;
° denotes Mandela circumferences.
I’m not straight; ° rounds me out.
° warms me up with space-heater BTUs:
85°F. Toasty. Mmmm.
The clear-nighted ° of autumn chills
my bones to 5.555555555555555°C.
C-c-cold to my skin. Brrr.
But ° blankets me.
How cool is that?
Clever Lintner-° of enzymatic activity,
clever Lovibond-° transparency, I swoon.
° is my precise seducer.
                                    for Michael G. Smith

a version
prompted to social justice
poverty        prison
divided once again
just or not
divided                  different
contrast this
triumphalist rendering
chosen               righteous
one view
familiar     patriotic
elegance     grace
a new age
breaking of the chains of slavery
          honoring the

Spot On
immodesty whimsy
universal constants
of mythical nymphs
beauty is the beast
stolen lost forever
transferred violently
gray curls fall haphazardly
blues do charmlessly
not fatal but final
the virgin-hag’s scars

A nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had over 500 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has eleven books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry.  Her poem "See:  Love" was a finalist for the 2015 Pangaea Prize.  She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye, a member of the board of directors of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, the Florida State Poetry Society and TallGrass Writers Guild.  Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at