Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

A Need for More than Sleep

slinking, linking, drinking
blinking, blinking, blinking
four dollars more sleep to go
the headache lust in the mall
the headache
the headache does not know its place
          the headache, snug
the headache in two manglescripts
          one within reach
          the other wet and cold, outside the door in the snow
you make a miracle and nothing else comes of it
a puzzle and boulder
a bounty and pebbles
a rookery of root and rock
this knead of living on a tongue depressor and condom
the tree hid a dinosaur in its shape
the tread of hair and skin (her skin)
the disorder of distraction
nor will it be by one of the many gods belonging to anyone of us

After the Fact

It's time for me to retire, the dead man said.
Retire from what?
I don't know.  I can't catch the rain.

When the world comes to an end not by swamps of jellyfish
thriving in acid pools nor by one of many gods belonging to anyone of us
but late at night the moon whitewashed and gravy
the heart letting go of its last Nigerian beat
a shadow drum, a conch, a Burkina gita
each beat softer whispering softly
the brain pauses for a second and allows itself to turn itself off.

You do know you're dead?
I want to see yellow sweet clover one last time, the dead man answered.
And your world--, the other man said, your world is dead, too.

You Live the Life You Live and Then You Live the Life You Live

you live the kind of life you live
this from the gift of nails
this from the gift of corn
a psoriasis of snow
two windows
a king enters the space between panes of glass
and sees the walls beyond them
this is his kingdom of anticipation
when the wise man comes to the great room
he joins his king and looks into the middle
he too sees great walls, but he sees also a great door
two windows
a line of foundation
darkness lit only by a single bulb
a gift of shadow
the rust in the corner is rust in the corner.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses.  His work has appeared in The Cafe Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology  of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2012).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).  Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago's inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Poem by Lance Sheridan

The Sugar-House

The puddling furnace for the pig iron T-rail
for the fat-cat, clean shaven
rail riders who wore silk shirts made in the
sugar-house. . . they adorned
shapely trimmed facade clothes and the
white jib to protect their
thumbs; sat at the stumpy bars drinking
bourbon cold with the
saw-ice . . . carried around daguerreotype
self-portraits, "O you robust
sacred reaping machines;" you ran the
sweat shop company stores
and handed out paper-mache script to
feed your caulked iron kettles . . .
goods sold to the unsuspecting paintbrush
public, whitewashed by the
'hook' . . . they wound up poor, fiddling like a
riddled old homeless person
on a tarnished spoon; winter's cold and coffins
filled, plaited into daisy fields.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Three Poems by A.J. Huffman

A Square of White

rag, inanimate
rat, was made to mimic my lack
of success.  A shrouded corpse,
a show, a failure, it drew laughter
and sneers.  I took off my hat.  My audience
married the dark, disappeared. 
I abandoned consciousness as well,
fainted into the filth of waiting
for seconds and chances.

War Is Back In My Inbox

The sents and the receiveds are fighting,
again, for equal rights or maybe just
eye time.  Attention is the gold-
bricked road to salvation in this digital world
of limited space and span.  You are
only as interesting as your subjective tag-
line and a key-trip, finger-flick
away from trash.

Looking Log 003:  Upside Right

I must have hit my head on the way
down, because this place reads
like a rave on a bad acid trip, all smiling
cats and giant androgynous blobs that
dress like caterpillars, but preen
like butterflies.  Jack[off] has yet
to show his fucked-up face
again (no surprise there), so I am
wandering around, a Barbie among
goblins, wondering why the Hell
they hadn’t already crowned me queen.

A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), and Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications) are now available from their respective publishers.  She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming:  Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press).  She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2300 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.