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Art for an absent audience-2011-2015

by Mark Hudson
In a building that used to be a pizza joint,
I felt that people can disappoint.
I was at a found art sale put on by my school,
and I was there, feeling like a fool.
They had my art priced low as can be,
some pieces sold, while others almost free.
Yet, people would give it a quizzical look,
as if doing art is as easy as being a crook.
the comments I heard from negative patrons,
Makes me think they'd prefer us in aprons.
One lady said "Oh, I know this artist!"
"Oh, that's real weird!" her husband said, hardest.
Another lady said, "You have to start somewhere,"
but they all really got into my hair!
A parent says to a child, "we'll travel again,
When we go to the lourve you won't complain."
Must be totally nice to have such a rich father,
but the kid was more into baseball, why bother?
Then a man with a basketball shirt comes in with his girl,
Acting like art is the dumbest thing in the world!
With a sarcastic laugh, that sounded like Beavis,
his laugh was the impression that grieved us.
The purpose of the sale was to raise money for my school,
I even bought some stuff myself, which was cool.
But to see this art practically being given away,
but who will pay unless it's a Picasso or Monet?
I guess I'm a starving artist, with a big belly,
But I'm doing better than if I lived in New Delhi.
Being a creator is the best thing to be,
Even if people treat you like a flea.

2:(This is a found poem, now to 2015,)
as I add more to the computer screen.
The corner is now home of "World of Beer,"
the art of making money disappear.
How many alcoholics will lose their homes?
Wouldn't they be better off writing poems?
I once walked by, two college students outside,
drinking tiny beers, and giant hamburgers I spied.
The world of beer maybe is also good for food,
it's good for business, it creates a good mood!
The fries can take catsup, salt, even pepper,
but the artist is treated like just a big leper.
The panhandler has a better sale pitch than I,
the drug dealer knows who wants to get high.
The prostitute sells her body for a hit,
the preacher man says she'll be able to quit.
The artist paints to an audience of none,
the chef likes to put a wiener in the bun.
The baseball game brings fans, rain or shine,
the artist is lucky if he finds a place to dine.
The poet who is famous gets unending praise,
the politician does nothing and gives himself a raise.
The children, the only hope we have got,
have teachers who have brains ruined by pot.
The teacher teaches, the preacher preaches,
while kids which they could be back at the beaches.
The football player kicks a field goal; it lands on the moon,
the swamp thing still hangs out at the lagoon.
The cowboys still hang out at the saloon,
drinking and spitting in the spittoon.
You probably thing I write from a drunk perspective,
but that would it make it more ineffective.
Drunk poetry becomes incoherent,
but what am I turning into my parents?
Am I a positive role model, could that be?
Am I grateful I'm not positive for H.I.V.?
Yes, I once was young and stupid, too,
and now I'm older, and still have screws loose.
At least that's what people seem to think,
but to catch up with me, they go out and drink.
They think its okay because it is legal,
so says our mascot, the bald-headed eagle.
So is that why we've made Al Capone a hero?
We've forgiven him, whose conscious was zero?
Of course selling crack is a sin we can't pardon,
we'll have to hand that person to the warden.
If you kill an innocent American, you're a freak,
but they'll pay you lots of money if you get a sheik.
Where is the value for human life we savored?
I guess it's only for the elite and favored.
So as an artist, it's time to shut my mouth,
they would like me even less down in the south.







Game

by James Reiss
Before long fall rains will arrive.
Auto mechanics will lower their lifts
and sniff the air, snapping their fingers.

Hunting will be on their minds: Day-Glo
orange vests over their ponchos, shotguns
slung over their shoulders, bird dogs at heel,

they will clasp hand warmers and flasks,
then crouch in duck blinds, assaulting
each other with stories about cars.

Before long they will grow tired; they will smoke
weed by tiny fires and yawn when they see
faces in the flames. Their girlfriends have

left them, their bosses remain to harangue them.
But they've spent enough winters to know
that survival depends on the perfect decoy

and a freezer full of duck.







Fall Splendor

by Michael Escoubas
(An Etheree)*
Bow
down in
obeisance
loyal subjects
as October rides
in, like a prince on a
chestnut steed, robed in rich reds,
vibrant yellows, deep browns, subtle
beiges, and half-greens. Wheat stacks, cap-sheaved
salute this cascade of autumn splendor.

*The Etheree is a syllabic form invented by Etheree
Taylor Armstrong (1918-1994). Mrs. Armstrong lived
and wrote poems in Arkansas. The form is known for
its simple beauty and easy flow of diction. The
Etheree features ten lines with each line adding
one syllable for a total syllable count of fifty-five.


(Previously published in Limited Magazine,
Bloomington, IL)







Visiting the Relatives

by Jill Angel Langlois
My parents are forced to sit in straight chairs
and I on the stiff davenport of gold and olive green.
Held captive in the pale living room until my spirit
feels like a stuffed plastic covered wingback,
the adults talk over me.
They speak of the weather,
and "Those kids today…"
and "Those blacks…"
and "That President…"
We are served dry pork, spinach and beets,
save for the joy of 7-Up,
(I love when it tickles my nose).
Bored, I'm displaying black olives on every finger
(my own early artistic expression).
A frown from my father and I hide my fingers.
After dinner, back to the sticky plastic living room.
Again the meaningless talk of "Church politics…"
and "That Pastor should…"
Auntie lets the dog out.
A momentary reprieve.
Then I am told to play Auntie's electric organ.
"What were all those lessons for anyway?"
My stomach hurts,
Everyone is staring.
I want to shrink away
but I play every note instead.
I'm like a shooting star
and I'm afraid of fizzling out!
After my small repertoire,
long looks in the narrow driveway.
The dog frantically barking.
Fake smiles, tepid hugs.
As we back out, Auntie waves good-bye,
her lace slip showing.
A visit made, nothing more.
I think of her rotting lace curtains,
a maraschino cherry in my 7-Up,
my nervousness,
my boredom,
the gold and olive green davenport,
the one that makes the noise if I kick it a certain way,
the dog barking.
So quiet in the station wagon on the way home.







The Silver Maple

by Bonnie Manion
The silver maple tree
surprised me today when I
revisited after long years away

Once spindly and young,
now it's shaggy-barked and
dominates the backyard

Twin arms aloft, victorious
over my years of neglect.
A welcome or a rebuke?







Apple

by William Vollrath
ripens wondrously
at the perfect rate
to realize its
myriad potentials
sweet or tart
red, green, or yellow
reaching maturity
embraced by sun and air
only to be plucked
from its lofty cradle
protective seal pealed away
cool juices drained
golden meat consumed
until only the core remains
the apple's essence
born from a season
of growth
then decay
sweet quintessence
tart stimulation
crafted over time
the apple
generously gifts seeds
for a budding tomorrow







Dust to Dust

by William Marr
In memory of Glenna Holloway
I see a strand of poetic gems
coming out of the urn
twinkle in the bright autumn sun
before falling into the open arms
of the earth
that thirsts for love
and nourishment
 
graceful and elegant
unhurried
a real lady from the South







the Wedding Band

by jacob erin-cilberto
the floor kept tipping
and my mood kept tripping
not a sip of wine in my heart
just dizzy on autumn's sardonic breeze
 
a chill in the chords
music in my glass eye
but i still see you in another world
 
parallel to my movement
as i danced to forget,
but each step caused me to remember you more
 
 
until i just wanted to turn off the band,
------------
weddings make the old ring marks
on my finger reappear,
 
and that floor of memories
just keeps getting more and more claustrophobic 
 
as i teeter in and out of silence
sure to pass out in those dreams
twirling in the arms
of my emptiness.







100 Words on My Father with a Big Fish

by Jan Presley
If it's just about the catch 
then this snapshot tells me to relax and let him be; 
he's about the moment of his hand inside the gills 
of this monstrosity, the dampness drying its weight
against his blue-jeaned thigh,
fish-flesh and bone nearly wide and long as the man. 
He furrows a hungry smile against the sun, 
same smile he ravishes my mother with
when dinner is done—those nights 
when he comes home.
 
I will arrive in '54.
The plates on the Ram behind him are '53.

It's just about the catch; 
don't take those other nights so personally.


(Alimentum Journal, June 2015)







gone fishing

by Steven Kappes
after Edward Hopper, Room in Brooklyn

what high hopes I had
when first I bought the boat
dreams of afternoons
drifting in calm water
beneath overhanging branches
shadowed air heavy
a line out into the deep
fish waiting for lunch
nothing moving
but a gentle breeze
 
before running into
the reality
of burning sun
driving heat
biting insects
and the fact that
I don't even like
to kill
a worm






A Haiku

by Tom Chockley
thoughtful of grammar…
her lipstick color tonight
HeartThrob red






Becoming the Person I Never Thought I'd Be

by Candace Armstrong
Invisibility walks through the night.
She can do anything she wants
because no one will knowingly see her.
They don't notice their expectations
of having no expectations about her.

So what plays upon her shadow smile?
Simple absolution for transgressions
she will carry out because she can,
her revenge for not letting anyone know
how much she wants to be seen. 






A Sleepy Morning

by Ivan Petryshyn
a virtual, untouching love,
a virtual non-palpating kiss,
a distant "that", 
a nearby "this",
video-smiles of the cartoons,
a dim projection of the pale moon,
a light-gray promise of the morning to come,
the train's rails-o'-wheels instant drumming,
a plunge into the halogen space of phones,
the thoughts flying thoughtlessly, like geo-drones,
the threads of the lights
and the yawns of the fall of the men,
and a genius' potential of a pen-
all stops that are at, and all stops ahead,
the updating of the heads 
by the music, a paper, a book or a cell,
the moving from the dwelling to an outstay of a job space,
at the base of the cases,
a wish to kiss all
and to see none-
a vision of a boredom and a hope for fun.







Against My Will I Think of You

by David Bond
The fishhawk 
hits quiet water like a plane
crashing. 

The S curve of nervous blue heron
among the cattails
squawks, rises

a small flapping dinosaur.
Another July morning 
beside the sentimental idiom

of pond I love
more than most things. 
Winter so full of anger

amnesia, separate bedrooms.
In a few months
the grey geese will leave 

in an arrow of sliphorned honking. 
The unfathomable beauty of deer 
will again make hunters rage.

My heart jumps like this
ruthlessly happy or not.
Against my will I think of you

in a Rorschach of cloud
just as the sweep of sun
breaks through 

a network of birch branches
pools between hackberry and hickory
and the whole bounding forest 

flashes capsized
on the water's slick surface.
The rhythm of the earth

is not measured in days or months
and your parting is not so much 
beside the sweet collisions of comets

the erosion of quartz to prairie sand.
The woods in the pond are on fire 
and I sit dazed among  blue-eyed grasses

the mud chimneys of crayfish
realizing that the greatest pain
is to be ignored.


(Previously published in Big Muddy)






Gramma's Garden

by Mary Jo Balistreri
Yeast rises all over the maple
table, sits in pocked tins 
near the registers, on window sills.
Covered with flour sack dish cloths,
a scent, earthy and sweet snakes
across the kitchen floor, up the stairs,
under the closed doors of sleep. 

Gramma rises early in spite
of the cold North Dakota spring.
It is Saturday, baking day on the farm. 
A garden of breads sprouts 
in the kitchen: whole wheat, sour dough,
white, clover leaf rolls, cinnamon buns. 
Pie crust is rolled, raisins soak in rum,
nutmeats are roasted. 

The first hot and sugared pie scraps
are handed to my sister and me,
melting on our lips. We warm
ourselves by the old wood stove. 
Gramma tosses apple skins on the logs,
checks the dimpled dough, springy to her touch. 
We sit on the rag rug, 
look at the opened page of Adam and Eve
that our mother read last night
in our children's bible. Already at seven,
we know Paradise. My sister says, 
I would have taken a bite too.






Another Good Guy (Our Heroes)

by David LaRue Alexander
As another good guy
        bites the dust
was he felled by greed
        or was it lust
Still another person
we shouldn't trust
As we shake our heads
                      in feigned disgust
 
 Our heroes aren't allowed
                      to show any rust
Our heroes aren't allowed
                      to gather dust
Our expectations
                      are so unjust
Complete perfection
      is now the must
 
While to err is human
and forgive divine
But one mistake
    and they're a headline
Who quickly get rushed
           to the sideline
by spin artist hired
   to re-design
 
Their public likeness
              they'll re-define
Our expectations
         they'll realign
Before their image
     can decline
and they've no option
 but resign
 
So if you want to be a hero consider this….
 
Either live a life
of no transgression
or consider another
career direction
Because if you can't achieve
complete perfection
you'll never survive
the media inspection






Handgun

by Phillip Egelston
Was it providence
found it meet
we'd always find
just one more
slaughtered thing
lying in the street?






Have You Listened?

by Gus Wilhelmy
When her eyes
disclose and share in sadness voiced,
"Do you ever listen?"
I know a number of things. Like I'm 
never finished listening to what she's said
while reminding myself the flower is the space
between her wish and blood within my veins.

My ears then catch the frequencies
beyond the talk to where the heart    
does sense a voice crying in the wind,
carrying fire no waters could douse
and with that fire comes
an ask that sears "Do you ever listen?"

And then maybe I'd hear 
the gentle air that wraps in candle love
sobbing in the night wind
lamenting probes she makes, 
"Do you ever listen and feel within 
a word that breathes my need?"

And, when I travel facing winds that weep
and catch her voice in eyes that show
no sugar only pleading love,
if I'd just heed, "Do you ever listen?"
then I'd too feel raptures arms can bring
enfolding hope embraced in both, 
and I'd stop walking so alone.  







Barista

by Caroline Johnson
Henry says the Lakota called it black medicine.
I can imagine Black Elk drinking from a gourd,
huddling around a teepee with a peace pipe
sometime in July when the cherries are ripe.
 
Henry looks at each customer with green eyes
full of gourmet hot chocolate and caramel mochas. 
He moves his arms across the espresso machine,
steaming milk, whirling words with a smile.
 
His eyes sail through you like a windjammer,
as if you've been caught by a cool island breeze.
He hums as he scrubs stubborn stains off of soup
kettles, stocks the pantry, or pours steamed milk.
 
He shakes his head and his braids rustle round him.  
I work the register, exchanging money for drinks.
The smell of French Roast perfumes the air.
You can hear the crackle of beans as they grind.
 
The line is long:  a mother with a stroller, a boy
in a wheelchair, two ladies with Gucci bags. 
Two wealthy ladies talk of sconces in their new
living rooms, a young couple orders hot chocolate,
 
and a lone man with dark black hair stands at the back
of the café wearing a T-shirt, his arms exposed to reveal
a green tattoo:  "I-R-A-Q" neatly printed across his skin.
Henry talks to them all as they huddle around, waiting
 
for their black medicine.  Henry makes everything look easy. 
He can do three things at once.  Yet Henry's not easy. 
He's just trying to figure life out before it passes him by.


(Winner of Wilda Morris' Poetry Challenge, February 2015)






The Light

by Cathy Lou Pearson
First light
Daybreak
Dawn
Sunrise
 Greets the day
See the light

Midday light
Midday sun
The light of day
High noon
Noon day sun
Hugs the earth

Afternoon sunshine
Afternoon light
 Sun's brightest rays
Sunrays hug the body
Bask in the light

Late afternoon sun
Five o'clock shadows
Diminishing light
Sunshine softly fades

Dusk
Spectacular sunset
Pink, blue, and golden hues
Fleeting glances of sunshine
The last of daily light

I am the light
You are the light
We are the light
Live in the light






Diversities of Gray

by Kathy Cotton
My eyes scissor down
a bolt of two-lane asphalt,
unrolling its dingy selvage
toward a stack
of silver crepe clouds
pressed thin beneath layers
of pearled sateen,
somber business flannel,
slate and charcoal wools.

Utility poles, like old needles
with drab thread,
push even stitches
along the highway's edge.
I travel, wrapped
in the soft shades
of an overcast day.






The Soldier's White Queen of Christmas

by Rick Sadler
Tonight  I  want  to  dream  of  the  Virgin  Mary  so  very  bright
Yes  it's  another  Friday  that  Mary  brings  me  poetry  to  write,
A  Christmas  feeling  in  October  as  the  Mystical  Rose  appears
In  my  unconscious  state  of  sleep  I  can  see  the  Virgin  peers,
 
The  Madonna  looked  so  lovely  to  behold  and  yet  so  very  glad
As  the  Queen  adorned  a  white  veil  with  a  crown  on  top  she  had,
Streams  of  light  shooting  out  from  her  fingers  in  a  friendly  way,
 
Her  majesty  adorned  a  blue,  white,  black  camouflage  designed  mantel
She  wore  a  green,  black,  brown  camouflage  designed gown  I  can  tell,
 
I  know  that  the  window  for  Christmas  will  not  let  me  sleep  until  I
Write  this  poem  from  Mother  Christmas  to  convey  her  words  on  high,
 
Mother  Nature  of  Christmas  said  in  a  soft  voice  echoed  in  my  ears
By  saying,  "To  all  the  soldiers  that  are  near  and  far  and  to  the  years,
That  they  serve  with  their  families  as  they  wait  for  your  happy  return
From  foreign  lands  to  come  back  safely  to  the  ones  they  love  I  pray
They  can't  hold  back  the  tears  of  joy  as  Waterfalls  on  a  lovely  day,
 
This  is  my  dream  for  our  soldiers  around  the  World  that  Holy  Mary
Will  watch  over  you,  guide  and  protect  you  from  all  evil  and  carry,
You  safely  back  to  the  "World"  and  have  peace  for  Christmas  this  year
Thus  the  White  Snow  Queen  smiles  at  our  soldiers  to  hold  them  dear,
 
Then  I  woke  with  a  yawn  I  saw  with  my   excited  imagination  eyes
The  Mother  of  Heaven  and  Nature  sing  as  I  look  up  into  the  skies,
So  to  all  the  U.S.  Service  members  and  their  families  I  wish  with  all
My  heart  as  being  one  time  where  you  are  a  Mary  Christmas  I  call,
 
So  I  have  finished  this  and  Mother  Nature  will  surely  let  me  sleep
As  I  know  her  highness  will  protect  us  in  America  to  bless  and  keep,
The  White  Lady  of  Peace  always  comes  to  me  on  Friday  nights  round
A  few  months  before  Christmas  to  inspire  me  for  others  that's  around






Heaven's Souls

by Tracy Costello
Ancient times, ancient places; timeless people, forgotten faces. 
Souls that whispered, love gone by; lives of hardship, lived then died. 
Work and toil, sweat and tears; joy in breathing, relinquished fears. 
Birth of children, prayers for life; tiny headstones, grief and strife.
Reasons for each life unknown; lives that mattered, heaven's souls. 






Growth Hormone

by Jim Lambert
Violets grow among the weeds,
 hiding seeds for my discontent.
The fertile soil 
will spawn them all, 
and absorbing the Sun,
they'll grow
into a bountiful array
of nature's arts
to restore my spirit
and nurture my soul.






Moon Rode

by Mardelle Fortier
The moon rode all night to find
in the lilies, in the leaves
mowing through dark over secrets

the moon rode all night to find
in the shadows light as piano notes
in the wind soft as owls' breath

the moon rode all night to find
past misty stillness at the edge of the lake
past bright silver dreams of swan children

the moon rode all night to find
on the train of shining, on the song
of ecstatic explosions of free stars

to find everything
that ever fell down from the sky


(Published in Prairie Light Review,
Vol. XXXVII, No. 2, 2015)






Intermission

by Alan Harris
There can come a moment
when stillness reigns,
when the actor in the mind
is curtained away from view,
when reading is unneeded
though the book be open.

With animation suspended,
whole libraries may be
now serenely renounced,
classrooms unattended,
conversations unengaged in,
writing saved for a later muse.

Images stream in and out
with no conscious guidance
or disturbance, each
morphing into the next.

Is this interlude a taste
of the long and quiet phase
that humans call heaven?
An after-state wherein they
reap the ecstasy they sowed
while living the virtues?

Euphoria must pass.
Soon will be seeking,
effort, grief, desire—
but for now the mind
is permitted its silence,
and the heart and soul
their benign repose.


(From Recent Poems)






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