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.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Judgment, a poem by Dheepa Maturi

by Dheepa Maturi

I know the angle from which
to pull the threads from my skin.
I know how to twist and anchor them
on shards of my bone,
how to unwind my organs and entrails —
and thoughts —
how to weave them all into jagged tapestry.
It takes practice,
but I've been doing this for awhile.

You do not notice as I spiral my arms
and fling the cloth.
You do not notice as it descends
over your face, torso, feet.
At last, I can comprehend you
through the underbelly of my organs,
through the kinks in my dermis.

You aren't kind,
and you don't love me.
Your words stretch and
distort around the edges.
I don't feel your pulse
or your breath,
but I see you.

About the poet: “I am the director of a nonprofit fund in Indianapolis and a graduate of the University of Michigan (A.B. English Literature) and the University of Chicago. My poems and essays have appeared in Every Day Poems, Tweetspeak Poetry, A Tea Reader, and Here Comes Everyone.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Truck Stop Dog, a poem by Thomas Alan Orr

Truck Stop Dog
by Thomas Alan Orr

Wingo lounges in the grass
under tulip trees
near the Ready Go truck stop
along the interstate
near Indianapolis.
He’s headed for Denver
(only he knows why),
waiting on his ride.
Here comes Toledo Jake
in his big Kenworth T660.
Wingo jumps aboard,
head out the window,
tongue lolling, wind tearing
at his ears, Jake shifting
into high gear, wheels whining.
The open road is all that matters.

West of Abilene,
Jake is on the radio
checking highway patrol
with a tanker out of Bismarck,
a flatbed out of Tulsa.
Wingo slurps Cheerios and milk
in the sleeping berth, content.
They cruise into the pit stop
near mile marker two-sixty-five
and Wingo is out the door.
On the knoll, a pretty cur
wags her tail and off they go,
Denver deferred, Jake shouting,
Adios, hermano!” He sighs
and gazes wistfully after Wingo,
chasing love on the open road.

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ten Krugerrands: Creative Nonfiction by Charlie Sutphin

 Ten Krugerrands

A Parable of Want

by Charlie Sutphin

Years ago, when the price of gold was low, I purchased ten Krugerrands at a coin store. I placed the Krugerrands in holders and planted them around the world like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. I felt better knowing the coins were there should I have the need. If times were dark and I stumbled into that part of the world again, my gold was safe. I know, I know: Don’t say it. Still, it’s what I did.

The first planting occurred outside the city of Prague in the town of Terezin. With a group of tourists I visited the concentration camp of Theresienstadt before driving through the ghetto. I finished the trip at a memorial to the victims of WW II and was provided 20 minutes to examine (and photograph) the crematorium. Afterwards, the group strolled over the corpses interred beneath the ground.

I excused myself and walked to the farthest corner of the property. Taking a trowel from inside my backpack, I dug a hole 12 inches deep, buried a coin, and refilled the hole making sure to restore the grass, like a scalp, so the groundskeeper wouldn’t recognize what had happened. To this day, that coin remains in that hole in that cemetery in the Czech Republic—testimony to my insecurity. Soon I will pass into oblivion, but that piece of metal will survive, hidden and secure, and preserve a part of my presence on this earth long after that presence has been eradicated.

I recorded the date, the time, the name on the grave, then made a sketch of the location. I repeated this process in nine other graveyards across the world, including the Pere Lachaise in Paris, the Highgate in London, and La Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

Recently, I deduced a more localized stratagem. I bought 50 additional Krugerrands and am in the process of planting each in the capital city of every state in the union. I’m halfway done. You want to know where I’ve buried the loot?

Twelve inches below the ground in the corner of the municipal park closest to the General Assembly is where they rest. If you find one: it’s yours. In return, I ask you to leave something to remember me after I’m gone: a message of gratitude on a piece of paper perhaps, or an illiterate’s proxy, like a penny or a dime, to indicate gratitude to a destiny that has brought you this far. If nothing else, offer a drop of sweat or a bit of spit to mark the spot where I once dug—and you now sow.

Blessings to us all as we share what I have forsaken and you have found. Now dig.

About Charlie Sutphin: I’ve lived in Indy for about 60 years and written here for half--those years. For me, writing is like skipping a stone across the surface of a pond: you search for a word, pick it up, rub off the dirt, fling it forward, and watch your effort journey across the water before sinking into the darkness--never to be seen or heard from again. Isn’t that what it’s like? Ten Kruggerands deserves a spot in the light, I suppose, for a moment or two before settling back from whence it came.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Goodwill, a poem by Marjie Giffin


is scattered all over the canopied bay
among the trampled cardboard boxes
and crumpled bags and soggy sheets.
A young, moody-faced teen languishes
on the curb, nodding when spoken to
but not answering my motion for help.
Figures, I think, cursing lazy youth,
as I trot to the back of my car and heave
up the hatch and begin loading my arms
with all the added goodwill I can muster:
baubles that came from Macy’s, canisters
that once spilled out Gold Medal flour,
baby dolls that were kissed and held.
No time for sentiment; tepid rain drips
from the awning and pools on cracked,
uneven cement. The scent of moldy
cast-offs mixes with the mustiness
of tentative, springtime rain. A sack
of Christmas candies catches the eye
of the non-attentive teen; May I?
his eyes seem to ask. I toss it to him
like a bridal bouquet. In the rearview
mirror as I pull away, I see him grinning
as he digs in the crinkly silver sack.

Marjie Giffin

About the poet: “I am an Indianapolis writer who has recently been published in Poetry Quarterly, Flying Island, Snapdragon, Words and Sounds, and in a teaching anthology. I am active with the Indiana Writers Center and participate in many workshops.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

In Red's Juke Joint in Clarksdale, a poem by Norbert Krapf

In Red's Juke Joint in Clarksdale
by Norbert Krapf

In Red's juke joint they play the blues
after the sun don't shine. The notes
they play are blue but the ones plugged in
on the wall glow red and the beer bottles

Red sells from behind the bar are cold and brown.
A small river flows behind the old building
and in front stands a cut barrel in which meat smokes.
Between the river and the smoke the blues cook

all night long and the beer flows as slow and long
as the river don't stop. People come to sit
on bar stools and chairs and listen to the blues
nights the way they come to sit in pews in church

Sunday mornings and in Red's and in the church
the music is about the same though some people
say the music in the juke joint comes from the Devil
and in church it comes from God. My ears tell me

the music in Red's is the call and response of the Devil
and God talkin' together and the people listen
the same whether the smoke comes from a candle
or meat and all the singing sounds sacred.

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, July 31, 2017

Going Deaf, a poem by Mary M. Brown

Going Deaf
by Mary M. Brown

For a while it’s mostly bliss,
swimming a lovely, negotiable
lake, the hush of small fish,

or like resting inside a shell,
a turtle, a nutmeat, a swaddled
babe, pacified and riding

the sweet blurry line between
stillness and sleep. But later
you wonder whether the lake

is a roiling ocean you are
alone in with sharks, other
predators, and water pressure

or a kind of padded cell, you
the slow prisoner who wonders
if anyone else will show up

to bring you poetry or mass or
whatever you yearn for—a bible,
cigarettes, kisses, a knife in a cake.

About the poet: Mary M. Brown lives with her husband, Bill, in Anderson, Indiana. She’s a Hoosier not by birth but by long residence and disposition, and she enjoys proximity to all six of her grandchildren. Retired now, 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.