Monday, October 16, 2017

Windy City Hybrids, three poems by Gerald Sarnat

Windy City Hybrids
(3 poems by Gerald Sarnat)

Make Love Not Book

Punkinhead roughrider for Chitown’s Yiddishkeit Mob
on the illiterate immigrants’ turnip truck circuit
wrangled a killing but no living wage playing
havoc with landsmen’s thin paychecks.

Me I was raised on the Southside where till age ten
I sold papers and numbers at a newsstand corner of
71st and Jeffrey where Teddy paid moi in Marilyn
Monroe nudie calendars that my Mom threw out.
Barely survived Depression/ WWII/ Holocaust
after which Pops moved us to the Golden State
and there his core values evolved toward shady real estate
while the mogul’s scion morphed into a granny glasses hippy.

During college I returned to the old Chiraq hood --
Avis wouldn’t rent me no car-- for sorta peace rally
at the old corner where Steinways’gone, Walgreens’
still there but most of the drugs were sold by gangs.

Battle of the Flavors

Back in the course of my parents’ Never-ending War,
during the Chicago phase which we siblings
now remember best for beginning during a Cubs’ game
at Wrigley Field,
I became Daddy’s surrogate by favoring Spearmint
while Sis sided with Mom’s Juicy Fruit though both cost
only 5 cents when Ike was President before their divorce.

up fronts

detentional as his son while Pops in a drinkers’
bar -- no socializing, my Granny’s dealio is,
If ya eat my food, Boy, we gotta talk
cutting a fool's way, many decades wandering,
avoidant dishwasher years were the best but
brass balls pimping women ‘n drugs was hard.
sure I fell in love too often, much too easily.
great and terrible, you were the only man
who everevereverever touched me…
whiteass banana noise armed to the teeth,
broke, bored, foot in da graveyard, the otha
one ona reefer peel,stead of yellin funky, laid
back vibe of crack reality’s releasin lotta black
savagery,chords not so happy anymore strikin
up pimp walls, flashin hip-hopper Raiders' hats
lookin fo The Man's spot-on product, thinkin
every nigga's selling narc on Compton cops'
warpath -- theysa gang but mo organized,
RKing uprising on the hunt blazes doors
blown off suburban albino Valley Girls
droppin crème brûléecurls down on
musky weed ‘n dirt…back east Bronx
hoodrats start doin’ Peppermint Lounge
whereas Studio 54’s left to you Manhattan
aristocrats, but perfect marriage we both
be snortin’coke ‘n screwin’ pussy, silk
and satin backwashing thru cracked veins,
powder monkeys zulu a few zooks of porn
weed plus tobacco until Simple Simon
comes on -- it’s all over now, baby blues…
down south sober living, mosquitoes killing
more of our people than ODs, we dirt poor
coffee farmers joined Los Narcotraficantes
for the joy of children’s clothes, shoes, food
please find a way in your hearts to love us
if not their coca…after a few years Chicago hole
in the wall clubs this here autistic shit it must stop,
OutKast gotta get straight in the studio, run verses,
remix tracks with our instruments zilch samplers.

About the poet: Gerard Sarnat’s recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He’s authored four collections: Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016), which included work published in Gargoyle, Lowestoft, American Journal of Poetry, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Tishman Review plus was featured in New Verse News, Songs of Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords, Floor Plan. Dark Run, Scarlet Leaf, Good Men Project, Anti-Heroin Chic, Winamop, Poetry Circle and Tipton Poetry Journal new feature sets of new poems. “Amber Of Memory” was the single poem chosen for my 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan; the Harvard Advocate accepted a second. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, Kaddish for the Country, for distribution as a pamphlet in Seattle on Inauguration Day 2017, as well as the next morning as part of the Washington, D.C., and nationwide Women’s Marches. For Huffington Post/other reviews, readings, publications, interviews; visit Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry has worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he has three children, four grandkids.

family drives through Indiana's vast dunes on vacation. I still go back to Granger (near South Bend) to visit a first cousin who lived a block away from me for our first 10 years.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

My Lost Saints, a poem by Mary Redman

My Lost Saints
by Mary Redman

Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes, waits
in my shoulder bag. His ceramic image clothed
in robes of cream and green, a walking staff in one hand,
a frozen flame affixed to his forehead.

I pull his five-inch likeness from its nest of tissues, lipstick,
and chewing gum, turn him over to pull a coiled paper slip
from his hollow insides, inscribed with the carefree wish
of a sixteen-year-old girl. I’ve come to trade that wish
for a prayer—I whisper a bargain to God and Jude—
to spare my father’s life.

A nurse beckons. I follow past the waiting room chairs
to his dim bedside—alone, perhaps to say farewell.
Fear wells. Here my childhood’s potent guardian lies
powerless, enmeshed in a network of tubes and wires,
pinned against a white hospital bed, set at an obtuse
angle for his comfort, or the nurses’ convenience.

His looks betray unthinkable pain, little awareness
of my presence. Eyes ringed in shadow, half-shut
by sleep and drugs, he stares dazed from a putty-colored face,
and mumbles through dry lips meaningless sounds. I wonder
what to say and swallow panic. As he struggles, insect-like,

he stretches gray lips, chapped and tight, tries to speak again.
Don’t cry, I tell myself as I clutch the figure of St. Jude. Finding it
a lifeless object made of clay, I turn to leave the room and drop
the figure, wish, and prayer in a wastebasket near the door.

About Mary Redman: She is a retired high school English teacher who currently supervises student teachers for two local universities. She is an active member of the Indiana Writers Center and has taken classes with the current Indiana Poet Laureate, Shari Wagner, and with poet Kyle Craig. She has had poems published in Flying Island and participated during 2016-17 in the fifth Religion, Spirituality and the Arts, an interdisciplinary arts seminar directed by Rabbi Sandy Sasso. Mary also volunteers as a docent at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and has volunteered as a Starfish Initiative mentor for the past four years.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ambulance Graveyard, a poem by Thomas Alan Orr

Ambulance Graveyard
by Thomas Alan Orr

Where the highway bends
toward sunset, before the bridge
and along the river, no lights flash,
no klaxons wail. They sit abandoned,
these chariots of mercy splashed
with blood-colored rust, now slipping
into the silt like a patient going under –
a fifty-nine C-10 Suburban
strewn with empty vials and I-V bags,
a newer Kenworth on its final run
when a tractor-trailer bashed it in.
Crows like mourners gather atop
the hoods as though on coffin lids.

Offer thanks for service rendered,
the gift of succor in distress, just as
the foreign visitor said, amazed,
In America the ambulance really comes!”
But these will come no more, bereft
of precious human cargo now,
though haven of a different kind,
home to skunks and coons
and river otters leaping scattered tires.
Wild blackberries grow in the grill,
feeding squirrels, mice, and birds.
Life prevails. Two kids salvage
an old chrome horn that only
they can hear for rescues far away.

About the poet: Orr's most recent collection is Tongue to the Anvil: New and Selected Poems (Restoration Press).

Monday, September 25, 2017

From Bleachers, a poem by Mary M. Brown

From Bleachers
by Mary M. Brown

We do not sit
on grass much
anymore, seldom
on the slopes
of river beds
or among clover
or dandelion heads.
We do not sit
on the saddles
of horses, almost
never settle on
the benches of row
boats or canoes.
We rarely sit
in circles now,
or scattered in trees,
or face to face,
knees bent, eyes
or closed to every
thing but inner
sunrise, the burning
ball of our own
singular light.

About the poet: Mary M. Brown lives with her husband, Bill, in Anderson, Ind. She’s a Hoosier not by birth but by long residence and disposition, and she enjoys proximity to all six of her grandchildren. Retired, she taught literature and creative writing at Indiana Wesleyan for many years. Her work appears on the Poetry Foundation and the American Life in Poetry websites and has been published recently in Christian Century, The Cresset, Quiddity, Flying Island, and Justice Journal.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sonnet for the New Immortals, by Dan Carpenter

Sonnet for the New Immortals
by Dan Carpenter

Full lives, they lead
Fine food, craft drink
In the gym by 7
By 9, on the links
For variety, a run
Maybe 20 miles’ biking
Or 1,000 by air
To prime mountain hiking
Concerts & football
With choicest of seats
With perfect friends
With perfect teeth
Yet – my modest lot against theirs shan’t be measured.
They don’t read and they don’t worship; they wander a desert.

About Dan Carpenter: “I'm an Indianapolis freelance writer who has published poems in The Flying Island, Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Maize, Tipton Poetry Journal and elsewhere. I have published two books of poems, The Art He’d Sell for Love (Cherry Grove, 2015) and More Than I Could See (Restoration, 2009); and two books of non-fiction, Hard Pieces (Indiana University, 1993) and Indiana Out Loud (Indiana Historical Society, 2013).”

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hill Country Blues, a poem by Norbert Krapf

Editor's note: Robert Belfour was born Sept. 11, 1940. He died in 2015.

Hill Country Blues
by Norbert Krapf

for Robert Belfour

Robert, Robert, they say you are gone.
They say your spirit is gone, way gone,
but your music plays on and yes on.

You grew up in northern Mississippi Hills.
I grew up in southern Indiana hills.
I never hear your song without a thrill.

On the sidewalk outside Cat Head Delta Blues
I stood peering at your face and your shiny shoes
as you sat playing the hypnotic Hill Country Blues.

Brother, brother, how you laid down that groove.
You laid down that ancient mesmerizing groove
that was anything but slick, light, and smooth.

Somehow I hear a horse clomp, clomp, clomp.
I see and hear an old horse clomp, clomp, clomp
when you play your eternal Hill Country Stomp.

About the poet: Former Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf's most recent poetry collection is Catholic Boy Blues, which was followed by the related prose memoir Shrinking the Monster, winner of an Illumination Book Award and finalist for an INDIES Award. Forthcoming is a collection of poems about his grandson (almost three), Cheerios in Tuscany. Norbert co-facilitates a workshop with Liza Hyatt, Bless This Mess: Writing About Difficult Relationships. For more, see

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pond, a poem by James Owens

by James Owens

I trick the scum to life with a pebble,
and wonder, haloed by the water's trouble,
will this carp, cynic and fat by its drain,
still nudge among these slimy stones
when I am perfected to naked bones,
softening beneath the caustic rain?

The wind, for only answer, harries
a rattle of newsprint into the trees.

Rutting dragonflies twist in couples,
green as rotting bronze, and kiss their doubles.
Bold again after a minute's quiet,
the fertile frogs yell themselves hoarse
by scraps of garbage, a discourse
on their tadpoles' choreography.
Old car batteries seep and bubble.

The slow carp oozes through mud,
mud-fleshed owner of the lower sludge,
easing past broken bottles to draw
little prey within the vacuum of its jaw.

About James Owens: His most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle Press, 2015). His poems, stories, and translations appear widely in literary journals, including publications in The Fourth River, Kestrel, Tule Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Southword. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in Wabash, Ind.