Thursday, December 31, 2015

Shari's 33rd Annual New Year's Day Bash, a prose poem by Michael Brockley



Shari’s 33rd Annual New Year’s Day Bash
by Michael Brockley

Captain Wah Wah’s grandchildren, Sophie and Dylan, jitterbug across the hardwood floor of the dining room, switching partners between their parents and aunts. Chairs arrayed along the wall, the dinner table dismantled and tucked inside a workroom. On stage, Ben sews dead flowers in the Pancho and Lefty gospel. The bandit polished his guns for the underground queen to see. As dusk arrives, Dylan shivers into the skin of music, and starlight flickers at Sophie’s feet while she chants Cabbage stew for money; black-eyed peas for luck. She strews rose petals among the guests. Shortbread cookies cool in the kitchen. Orange-and-brandy cake. Apple-cranberry-walnut pie. One of the aunts spins Dylan head-to-toe around her waist as Shari sings “You Ain’t Goin' Nowhere.” Sophie twirls at the ends of Captain Wah Wah's fingers. Oh, oh, are we gonna fly/Down in my easy chair. Those of us who applaud snack on grapes left over from midnight. On cinnamon-flavored buñuelos for love. Sophie’s father perches his daughter on his shoulder as Stan fine tunes the happiness song. Dylan and Shari allemande. We each lean forward from our part in the evening, listening to harmonicas and fiddles. To someone singing “The Weight” for the first time. The grandchildren stretch the “and, and, and” of the chorus until we are all breathless. This is how music is born. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Blueberry Hill Pancake House, a poem by Wendy Vergoz

The Blueberry Hill Pancake House

parking lot
on the East side
of town
is where
I picked up
my laptop
from the forensic
specialist,
plus the flashdrive
of Lydea and
her girlfriends,
the pornographic
clips
my husband
the pastor
had downloaded
onto my computer
six days before
he sent the letter
to his congregation
promising
with confidence
that there is
nothing
scandalous
about
our divorce.

--by Wendy Vergoz



Bio: Wendy Vergoz is an assistant professor of English at Marian University. Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century and Anglican Theological Review, and her poem "Unfinished, A Found Poem," written after 9/11, was read on the first anniversary of the attacks at churches in five different states. Vergoz participated in “Arts Kaleidoscope: Art, Poems, and Videos,” an exhibition of visual art and ekphrastic poems at Gallery 308 in Muncie, Indiana.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hibakusha, a poem by Jared Carter

Hibakusha
by Jared Carter


Please stay awhile; the evening light
          still troubles me.
Before it changes into night
          I seem to see

That street again. Something reveals
          itself, and cuts
Across the years, breaking the seal
          on what I’ve shut

Away – that moment when they all
          burst into flame
And blew on through the paper walls,
          calling my name.

Bio: Jared Carter's most recent book is Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press). He lives in Indianapolis.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

God Bless Our Troops, a poem by Barry Harris

God Bless Our Troops
by Barry Harris

God bless our troops
especially the snipers
who, eye at the scope,  scan
a man hanging in the cross
hairs, perhaps the enemy,
a man who can be dead
a thousand yards away
one second after God
blesses the trigger.

God bless our troops,
especially the drone controllers
sitting in cubicles
underneath a Nevada desert,
firing a missile a continent away
at a band of terrorists
or a wedding party.

Small decisions make a terrible difference,
true spooky action at a distance.


Bio: Barry Harris is editor of the Tipton Poetry Journal and has published one poetry collection, Something At The Center. Barry lives in Brownsburg, Indiana and is retired from Eli Lilly and Company. A graduate of Ball State University with a major in English, Barry was founding editor of Tipton Poetry Journal, which has been published in print and online versions since 2004. In 2009, he helped found Brick Street Poetry, Inc., a non-profit organization which now publishes Tipton Poetry Journal, hosts Poetry on Brick Street, and sponsors poetry-related events. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Saint Ann’s Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Silk Road Review, Kentucky Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Night Train, Hiss Quarterly, Cherry Blossom Review, Flying Island, Lily, The Centrifugal Eye, Redheaded Stepchild, Flutter, Wheelhouse Magazine, Houston Literary Review, Snow Monkey and Writers’ Bloc; and in these anthologies: MOTIF 3: Work, Twin Muses: Art and Poetry and From the Edge of the Prairie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Filled With Ladders, the World, a poem by Wendy Vergoz with painting by Sofiya Inger

Filled With Ladders, the World
by Wendy Vergoz

My father’s hands hold metal legs,
I on the ladder’s penultimate rung
last-but-one-any-higher-too-high.
My father’s hands hold metal legs,
I scoop wet leaves from the rooftop gutter,
first-house gutter, wet brown leaves,
soft green moss. I pry the screen off, sharp,   
slide my fingers underneath, my fingers which,    
long ago held white string, Jacob’s ladder.     

Strong-girl hands with slender fingers hold
Cat’s Cradle, Jacob’s ladder
she climbs from seeds, from the singing bell
the ringing bell, the bicycle bell
the sweet-girl voice counts
the ball and jacks singing
Jacob’s ladder, fingering string and jacks                   
and feet lift from the ground           
to jump the rope to count to sing to lift                       
past faces, past light, the faces are the light
voices present voices past
rise past singing ringing fingers hands

Solid as stone the ground, light as flowers her feet
ascend descend, spill through time like purple flowers

My father’s hands hold metal stems
and purple flowers spill through time
we float through time on singing bells
and ringing bells, the ball and jacks           
—the ball and chain pull us down
how dreadful is this place where tiny men would
pull us down, we float up past
my mother’s face, your mother’s voice   
the voices of our mothers
lift us sing us ring us past the sun and moon
the stars at night ascend descend and rise again          
The world is filled with my father’s hands
my mother’s voice, the rungs of the crib    
your father's hands free you from
the rungs of your crib, we float we lift   
ascend through time, time present, time past
—the ball and chain a nightmare dream
as we float through the purple flowers        
the ball becomes a singing bowl
a ringing bell, the chain a string a seed a stem
the ball and jacks, the jumping rope
the faces stars the faces moons, they lift me sing me                 
ring me toward or ring me through          
the girlhood string of Jacob’s ladder
Jacob’s gate, we float we rise        
through purple-flowered strings of time
how dreadful is that darkened place, those tiny men
will never hold us down                 

My father’s hands and mother’s voice       
your mother’s hands and father’s voice
my daughter’s hands, my son’s voice
strong as stone and sweet as bells
the singing voice, the ringing voice      
the world is filled with voices past and voices now   
singing bells and ringing bells
voices light leaves and bells        
suns and moons and purple flowers    
Jacob’s ladders fill the world, daughters sons
stems and seeds, the world is filled with
ladders made from faces light
and moss-rich earth        this place is filled with
I dreamt it on stone        angels

                                                                      
      Bio: Wendy Vergoz is an assistant professor of English at Marian University. Her poems have appeared
in The Christian Century and Anglican Theological Review, and her poem "Unfinished, A Found Poem," written 


after 9/11, was read on the first anniversary of the attacks at churches in five different states. Vergoz 

      participated  in “Arts Kaleidoscope: Art, Poems, and Videos,” an exhibition of visual art and ekphrastic poems at Gallery 308 in Muncie, Indiana.




"The World Is Filled With Ladders," acrylic on board, by Sofiya Inger.












Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Milk Saucer, a poem by T.D. Richards

The Milk Saucer
by T.D. Richards   

The old woman cries out in her sleep
to the old man who has gone,  leaving
his ears in the drawer. She opens her
eyes, and the cat with a broken heart
is pressed against her mottled skin
stroking her thin wrist with breath.
She recalls tiger lilies in the green
depression glass vase he won at
carnival--tossing pennies
into the milk
saucer.

Bio: “I have lived in Indiana most of my life. I have had three careers that have lead me to value the importance of observation, hence my love of poetry now.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Livestock, a poem by Jared Carter

Livestock
by Jared Carter


At journey’s end, forced to debark
          and follow ramps
That funnel them down through the dark,
          into a damp,

Benighted place, where sharpened knives
          await – they go,
In single file, their route devised
          so none can know

In minutes they will all be dead.
          They only mind
That what keeps prodding them ahead
          is from behind.

Bio: Jared Carter's most recent book is Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press). He lives in Indianapolis.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Oda a la Bugamblia/Ode to the Bougainvillea, a poem in Spanish and English, by Karel Van Horn

Oda a la Bugambilia
by Karel Van Horn

Compañera flor,
eterna amiga,
te amo—eres
bella,
democrática
y fuerte.

Pequeña selva
de colores
inolvidables,
habitas macetas,
paredes y solares.

Acompañas fielmente
a la gente humilde,
en las ventanas de sus chozas,
en botes de café.

Festival de luces,
cobija viviente,
engalanas las bardas
de los pueblos olvidados.

Flor del desierto,
¡cómo te aguantas!
Creces con más ganas
bajo el sol abrazador.

Eterna amiga mía,
no dejes que te cambien,
te amo—eres
bella,
democrática y fuerte.



Ode to the Bougainvillea
by Karel Van Horn

Kindred flower,
eternal friend,
I adore you, for you’re
beautiful,
communal and
enduring.
  
Tiny jungle
of unforgettable hues,
you live in clay pots,
on village walls, in vacant lots.

Faithful neighbor
to the humble and the poor,
you’re in windows of their shanties,
in old tin coffee cans.

Festival of lights,
blanket full of blossoms,
you brighten the ancient adobe
of old, abandoned towns.

Flowering desert vine,
how you manage to survive!
You thrive with so much gusto
under the unforgiving sun.

Eternal friend of mine,
don’t ever change—ever.
I adore you, for you’re
beautiful,
communal
and enduring.


Bio: Karel Van Horn, Beech Grove, received her undergrad degree from Purdue University and graduate degrees from Ohio State University, specializing in Latin American literature. She has lived in Mexico City and Hermosillo, Mexico, where she taught Latin American literature at the University of Sonora. Once back in the U.S., she taught all levels of Spanish in Indianapolis Public Schools, where she developed a curriculum for Spanish for native speakers. Her poetic muses are social justice and Pablo Neruda.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dillinger, a poem by Jared Carter

Dillinger
by Jared Carter


Out of the Biograph, its chill
          still lingering,
Out of that darkness, and the thrill
          such dreams can bring –

Into the neon night, her hand
          slipping away,
And all around you now they stand,
          as if to say

This is the way it always ends
          when bankers rule –
The world reduced to dividends,
          the blood in pools.

Bio: Jared Carter's most recent book is Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press). He lives in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stillborn Love Song, a poem by Norbert Krapf

Stillborn Love Song
by Norbert Krapf

I love you when
the dusk thickens,
evening falls in every
direction, and the dove
coos ever more forlorn.

I love you when
October air turns crisp
and smoke rises like
the breath of angels
from the chimneys.

I love you, stillborn sister,
when everything turns so quiet
the only sound I can hear
is the settling of snowflakes
on branches above my head.

I love you most when
All Souls Day returns
and the veil between
your world and mine lifts

and your spirit breath
drifts back down to earth
and touches these lips
waiting for your kiss.

Bio: Norbert Krapf, a Jasper, Indiana, native, was Indiana Poet Laureate 2008-10, received a Glick Indiana Author Award 2014 (Regional), and held a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis 2011-12 to combine poetry and the blues. His latest of 11 poetry collections is Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet's Journal of Healing (ACTA Publications, In Extenso Imprint, 2015). He collaborates with bluesman Gordon Bonham.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Anna's Lament, a poem by Wendy Vergoz

Anna’s Lament

          And all at once a strange idea came to her: what if he had
          ceased to love her?  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

To swim under iron and count,
each day, the ways I am alone.

No matter his touch, or not,
no matter silence to my words.

My nature, coreopsis,
coreopsis in a world of stone.

Too soon depleted, I choke on
dried petals, drink morphine.

Who knows such wounds,
ignominy and a lost son?

Wooden ties taunt, “What for?”
and promise something new.

I drop the red bag, drown my
sullied body in an iron sea.

            —by Wendy Vergoz



Bio: Wendy Vergoz is an assistant professor of English at Marian University. Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century and Anglican Theological Review, and her poem "Unfinished, A Found Poem," written after 9/11, was read on the first anniversary of the attacks at churches in five different states. Vergoz participated in “Arts Kaleidoscope: Art, Poems, and Videos,” an exhibition of visual art and ekphrastic poems at Gallery 308 in Muncie, Indiana.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

At the End of the Day, a poem by Barry Harris


At the End of the Day
by Barry Harris

At the end of the day
innovative, outcome-focused,
out-of-the-box 21st century
stakeholders stop ignoring
the elephant in the room
and just put the moose on the table.

They know who they are:
spot-on team players
who step back
and look at the big picture.

The good, the bad, the ugly
avoid a cross-functional disconnect
to leverage a six sigma project
that speaks to our vision
which will then  transform the organization.

Long story short, they will
move the needle, aim high,
pick the low-hanging fruit,
take this sucker into the sky
and land it on the Hudson!



Bio: Barry Harris is editor of the Tipton Poetry Journal and has published one poetry collection, Something At The Center. Barry lives in Brownsburg, Indiana and is retired from Eli Lilly and Company. A graduate of Ball State University with a major in English, Barry was founding editor of Tipton Poetry Journal, which has been published in print and online versions since 2004. In 2009, he helped found Brick Street Poetry, Inc., a non-profit organization which now publishes Tipton Poetry Journal, hosts Poetry on Brick Street, and sponsors poetry-related events. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Saint Ann’s Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Silk Road Review, Kentucky Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Night Train, Hiss Quarterly, Cherry Blossom Review, Flying Island, Lily, The Centrifugal Eye, Redheaded Stepchild, Flutter, Wheelhouse Magazine, Houston Literary Review, Snow Monkey and Writers’ Bloc; and in these anthologies: MOTIF 3: Work, Twin Muses: Art and Poetry and From the Edge of the Prairie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Girl, After Jamaica Kincaid

Girl

After Jamaica Kincaid

By  Charnell Peters

Always wait until the grease gets hot and test it with a pinch of flour; put your hand down close to the pan and don’t be scared of getting popped; it doesn’t matter what the label says, I mix these cleaners all the time and it works on everything; please do not mix those cleaners; don’t scratch your cornrows, because they have to last; if you ruin them, you better do something with that head or no boys are going to like you; use a folded rubber band to hook your jeans when you’re too fat to button them; save all your clothes because you might be skinny someday; don’t have high hopes for being skinny one day; your ankles are so ashy you could start a fire; put some lotion on and the thick kind too; you better eat all that on your plate; you better wash the bathtub when you get out; you better keep out of his way; help me fold these clothes and fold them right too; don’t just ball them up and call it good; sweep up the kitchen floor; Again?; and if you want to give me lip you can go ahead and mop it; the directions say two cups but I always put three; everyone knows good Kool-aide has three cups of sugar in it; and fill the first fifth or so with hot water so it dissolves real good; go get some groceries and make sure to use the food stamps; check all the eggs before you buy them and buy the cheapest bread and bologna; you better wear that skirt I bought you; you better get sick while we still have insurance; you better not leave a single dirty pot; you better stay out of his way; always stoop over a toilet; never pay more than the posted price; let people know you know they’re following you in a store; this is how you clean up a house for guests; this is how you clean up a house for family; this is how you wash somebody’s back when they can’t wash themselves; this is how you act like you’re not in charge but you’re really in charge; this is how you act when everyone knows you’re in charge; How do I know everyone knows I’m in charge?; put your tights on like this; put your smile on like this; put your legs together like this; or do you not want boys to like you?; you’ve got to drive up the hill, put the van in neutral, and roll back down into the driveway; it doesn’t go in reverse anymore; this is how you go through a stop sign when the brakes aren’t working; this is how you lend and borrow money; this is how you tithe when you don’t have money; always keep the peace; never start an argument; But what if it needs to be started?; you mean to tell me after all this you’re going to be the type of girl to start an argument?; do you not want boys to like you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sex Pistols--We Are All Punks!, a poem by George Fish

                           
            Sex Pistols—We Are All Punks!
    by George Fish


No, God won’t save the Queen   Though David Cameron
might try to   before he gets his proper comeuppance
from an outraged public that finally wakes up to the fact
that it got hoodwinked   even of its own willful blindness
and volition   But Johnny Rotten sang it well and properly,
“We’re your future!”   whether you like it or not  

In the ‘60s we shouted, “We are all Vietnamese!”   In the
‘80s and ‘90s we were all punks   In 2015 we are outcasts,
low-wage robots who work our asses off and can’t make a living
Yes, we are Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Arthur Wilson and
Tamir Rice   and also Bernie Sanders, John Brown and
Eugene Debs   'cause we know you can be old at 25 and young
at 75   it’s a matter of an open mind and open heart   No we’re not “pretty/pretty vacant/and we don’t care”   we care deeply   so we
thank Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook and Steve Jones  
The Sex Pistols   for talking to, for and at us   we are punks   and Vietnamese   and Chinese factory workers (not Chinese bigwigs) 
and African American   and Palestinian   and Egyptian   and
Honduran   and Venezuelan   and just plain illegal   everywhere
We are oppressed   and we stand with all oppressed   and all
fighting back against oppression 

No, we’re not “pretty/pretty vacant”   and we do care   one helluva lot

Bio: George Fish is an Indiana freelance journalist and poet whose work has appeared in several national and regional publications and websites, especially those of left and alternative publications. He has been described as "knowledgeable in an unusual variety of fields." In addition to short stories and poems, Fish has also published extensively on economics and politics; popular music, especially blues; and humor. He also does Lenny Bruce/George Carlin-inspired stand-up comedy.

Editor's note: It was in October 1976 when the Sex Pistols recorded "God Save the Queen." To hear the song, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02D2T3wGCYg

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Last Tusked God No Longer Heeds the Prayers of Its Believers, a prose poem by Michael Brockley

The Last Tusked God No Longer Heeds the Prayers of Its Believers
by Michael Brockley

You seldom speak of the sins of the president with the five o'clock shadow. About sabotaged peace talks. About the lies cataloged in the library of the POTUS who smuggled missiles and bibles to Tehran. Later this year the last elephant will stumble into its birth beneath the shadow of Kilimanjaro. No matriarch remains to scatter the bones across the red earth in grief. Where does the tusked god find refuge when bees no longer pollinate the pomegranate trees? When the night call of gem frogs vanishes into the desert of Noah's fire? You read about the orgasms of presidents. About the demise of the Whig Party. You think about the times you were rescued by dogs. The final miracle of a god during its last gasp of compassion. You're thinking of fireflies. Of luciferin and the science of cold fire. Last year you read four books on economics and realized how your country has descended into purgatory. When you visit the zoo beside the Wild West museum, an elephant with ginkgo-shaped ears paints masterpieces using a palette of kindergarten colors. Broad strokes of yellow and red ribboned across green clouds. The signature of the artist, a lotus without its stigma.


Monday, October 5, 2015

The Altar in the Kitchen, a poem by Norbert Krapf

The Altar in the Kitchen
by Norbert Krapf

The pink carcasses of rabbits
and fox squirrels shrivel in pans
of salted water in the sink.

Sometimes cleaned bluegill,
sunfish, or catfish settle
in round bowls of water.

Baking pans of rhubarb,
blackberry and apple cobbler
cool on the north window sill.

Ball jars of peaches jiggle
in boiling water on the stove
to winter in the cellar.

The kitchen is our Grand Central,
the table our stark altar,
and the priest, the farm girl

who gave birth to us, feeds us,
nurses us back to health,
prays over us in storms.


Bio: Norbert Krapf, a Jasper, Indiana, native, was Indiana Poet Laureate 2008-10, received a Glick Indiana Author Award 2014 (Regional), and held a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis 2011-12 to combine poetry and the blues. His latest of 11 poetry collections is Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet's Journal of Healing (ACTA Publications, In Extenso Imprint, 2015). He collaborates with bluesman Gordon Bonham.