Thursday, November 27, 2014

A poem from George Kalamaras

Manifest Destiny
by George Kalamaras

Feel free to induce me. Press your breath against my breath.
Stick your finger down the lorikeet’s throat and expel the sleep medicines.

Ask me for a blanket and I will produce a thread.
We can each hold an end and vibrate a song in praise of pioneers.

The Conestoga part of my heart can only let you in a little.
I will gladly feed you beans and lard, watch the flames pony-prance untamed
      shadows across your face.

We have the same connective tissue inside our more-than-private bodies.
It resembles a very long river, difficult to cross.

If I were an antelope, you might be a prairie hare.
If I a sheep, you, an Australian cattle dog.

We have known one another throughout many incarnations.
One time I came to you as lightning, you, the fierce, almost-soothing rain.

Bio: George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana, is the author of seven books of poetry and seven chapbooks, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A poem from Ryan Frisinger

words away (in three parts)
by Ryan Frisinger

words away

once upon a time,
i moved down south,

met a girl
who never shut her mouth,

so i finally had to
kiss her

words away.

words away, pt. 2

we crossed the world in
maps and pictures,

goddess shrine
was my bedroom fixture,

book of poems and telephones,
we were never more than

words away.

words away, pt. 3

until, the ghost and star
of both tattoo and heart

pointed north to where
a happy ending, happiness

in need of mending, happy
that it’s finally ending are only

words away.

Bio: Ryan Frisinger is a professor of English, holding an M.F.A. in Writing from Lindenwood University. He is also an accomplished songwriter, whose work has been featured in numerous television shows, such as America's Next Top Model and The Real World. His non-musical writing has appeared in such publications as Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The MacGuffin, and Punchnel's. He resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with his more-talented wife and couldn’t-care-less cat.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A tribute to Galway Kinnell from Dan Carpenter

Kinnell at Butler U., Feb. 6, 1989
by Dan Carpenter

Perfect poet’s presence     Galway
limp white dress shirt
dull brown hair finger-combed raking his brow
heavy hands and gentle voice
a seamy-faced Gus Hall drunk on angels

I drink in his beauty for free
in a lecture hall packed with lit students under duress
          signed in     penned
and I contemplate the abstract and the concrete
along a straight diagonal line –
          at the far end Kinnell      pawing his glasses
          singing of swifts and frogs rescued
          when one has been a long time alone . . .
          at the near end     a row ahead of me
          within a hand’s reach
          khakied knees raised to chin level
          black hair rich with brown hints     like chocolate cake
          a third his age half mine
          a freshly made human doing what Galway says a poem does
          doing the job to be
          leaving it to the apprehender
          to make of her a lover     daughter     moment

Galway    on course in the face of beauty
takes beauty he’s made and makes it new
while I     serene     sad     by no means covetous
weigh his words and weigh
her black untroubled eyes
her wide tan cheeks pure as infancy
her enormous pantaloons denying her figure like a nun’s habit
            all this I take in and feel poetry      its ache

Bio: Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer and former newspaper staffer, living in Indianapolis. He has published poems in Flying Island, Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Maize, Tipton Poetry Journal and other journals.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Blanket

by Keith Krulik

            We all have obstacles to climb, personal barriers or demons to get over, physical or mental challenges to overcome. These are the things that build character, that turn followers into leaders. The question I pose is this: How much can you endure before you cease to build character, before you don’t build into a leader and are yourself destroyed? How much can you take?
            When my headaches began over two decades ago, I felt my body as a blanket, a thick, heavy quilt. I hung on a clothesline as Evil stood beside me, wielding a baseball bat, inflicting pain every few seconds, over and over. Back then the pain was just beginning; improbably, it seemed less intense as now. Over time and the continuous beatings, the blanket has worn thinner.  In those eight thousand days, I have transformed to a thin sheet, something even a homeless person would discard.
            Each day I receive my beatings through all sorts of conditions, through all the seasons. I hang there and look to the heavens, feeling the heat of the sun, the wind on my face, and then it slides down my body just as the bat hits me once again. In the winter, the snow feels good against my skin, reviving me, but making the sting of the bat that much worse. My body, my blanket, is more brittle in the winter. The Evil one knows this, adding a little extra to each swing.  The bat strikes me on my body, but I feel the pain on my head, at my temples.
            Five concussions over a long period of time, beginning in high school, have given me these headaches. Over the years, I have gone to doctors, the process and results always the same. They subject me to blood tests, CT scans of the head, MRIs of the brain and neck, and end up coming back with the same answer, “I’m sorry, Mr. Krulik, but all the tests came back negative.”  Does that mean my headaches don’t exist? 
            The first doctor I went to for my headaches in the mid 80s suggested that it was probably just stress. It would be five years before I would see another doctor, only to hear from him, “It’s only headaches.” I found out the medical profession didn’t take headaches and migraines very seriously. Later, when I saw a family doctor in the 90s, he offered me scripts for Percocet, Darvocet, and Vicodin. I refused because I drove for a living and I didn’t want to become addicted to pain medication. Again I returned to the clothesline and my Tylenol, 16 a day. 
            The Evil one has had me engaged in a war of wills over the years. I have a high tolerance for pain, but everyone has a breaking point. Eight thousand days of unending pain is a long time, treated by only Tylenol. On the pain scale, my headaches would reach an “8” and I would take three Tylenol, dropping it to a “3” or “4” for thirty minutes to an hour and then it would begin its rise again, and in three hours I would be back to that beloved “8.” Evil never left me. Never.
            As I hang there, sometimes I look down and stare at Evil itself as it beats on me. The body is not imposing. It is not superhuman at all, rather normal. I don’t look at the face always, but when I do, it’s different each time. One time it’s the face of the kid who gave me my first concussion in football as a sophomore in Tucson, Arizona. The next time I look it might be the face of someone I confronted while driving a cab a few years back. A few days ago I looked down and Evil looked like the woman who hit me head-on and gave me my fourth concussion in 1979.  More often than not it is Satan himself, complete with the classic horns.
            Our two kids are grown and have known for years that their dad takes a lot of Tylenol or aspirin, although they don’t know the exact amount. My own parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all know I have headaches but don’t know the severity of them. All my relatives, including my kids, see my temper has changed over the years. Everyone just thinks Keith is a “hothead.” No questions are asked, but I am lectured by my retired Colonel father. I say nothing. I would rather have everyone think I’m a jerk than have them worry about my health. What would I tell them anyway? 
            Each year that passes the pain gets worse, the depression deepens. I can feel myself slipping into a darkness I may not escape from, from a darkness I might not want to escape from. I go to my granddaughter’s gymnastics meets and my grandson’s baseball games, but I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be anywhere. The pain crushes more than my head. It crushes my will. The Evil one beats on not just me, but everyone around me.
            Death is something I think of. Because of ethical beliefs, I would never take my own life, but I have already used my job as a cab driver to provoke the less than righteous people into arguments and fights that would see me as a victim on the late news, ending my pain for good. So far, I can’t even get that to happen.
            My rock, the love of my life, waits for me each evening. She is the only person on the planet who knows how I feel, and yet I don’t tell her everything. I don’t tell her my deepest fears.  I don’t tell her how I spent most of the day thinking of thirty different ways for me to die. I don’t tell of the near misses, of the days when guns were drawn on me and I secretly hoped the trigger would be pulled. She is on eggshells each night as I come through the door, wondering what mood I will be in. She is hesitant to ask me how my day went, for fear that I may snap, or almost as bad, say nothing at all. The Evil one strikes me day after day, but he strikes the one I love more than anyone each time he strikes me.
            My body, my blanket, wears thin. You can see through it now. Something has to be done. This has to end. This has gone on much too long. One last doctor perhaps? Confront one last bad guy?
            Some things remain constant. I am the blanket. The clock keeps ticking. 

Keith Krulik lives in Indianapolis and just finished his first mystery/thriller novel to be published soon. He also contributes to a blog called with three other friends, where Keith specializes in humorous postings. His next major project is an expansion of "The Blanket" into book form, the telling of his story of 25 years of chronic pain along with 18 years of on again, off again depression.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Crow Hour in Bloomington IN, a poem by Hiromi Yoshida

Crow Hour in Bloomington IN
by Hiromi Yoshida

That dreaded hour when they start flocking together—ruffling their black rag feathers, debris
      of the long winter days—scattering across the greying sky—intense with needless
      exclamation (raucous cacophony), heedlessly dropping scatological

calligraphies like Jackson Pollock scrawls across the sidewalks of Tenth Street leading to
      Crosstown in Bloomington IN.

Bio: Hiromi Yoshida has been described as one of Bloomington's "best writers" by Christopher Harter, editor of Bathtub Gin, and as one of Bloomington's "finest and most outspoken poets" by Tony Brewer, co-founder of Matrix organization. Winner of multiple Indiana University Writers' Conference awards, Hiromi Yoshida's poems have appeared in Borderline, Evergreen Review, Bathtub Gin, and the Matrix anthologies of literary and visual arts.