Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Joseph Victor Milford- Three Poems

Joseph Victor Milford is a Professor of English and a Georgia writer who is currently working on his EdD doctoral studies. He was born in Alabama in 1972, and he went on to receive his Bachelors degree from the University of West Georgia, in English and Philosophy, and then his MFA in Poetry from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. His first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, was published by BlazeVox Press in 2010, and he is presently composing a collection of poems with Hydeout Press, forthcoming in 2015. He is also the host of The Joe Milford Poetry Show, where he has compiled an archive of over 300 interviews and readings with American and Canadian poets.  He is also a member of the Southern Collective Experience.


I once made a religion
Of firing arrows towards
Places without targets.

I once made a religion
Of being a target
In a place of buried arrows.

I once made a religion
Of being a place
Where all arrows pierced targets.

I once was a place
Or an arrow or a target
I forget—I just know

Things were flying.
Things were morphing.
Things were waiting.

I once made a religion
Of targeting arrow-factories
Nestled, as they are, under golf-courses.

I lied; I never made a damn thing,
Much less religions. I sat there
Under clouds, collecting feathers

Sharper than scalpels, placing
Them between the pages
Of the bibles that cut us all

In the first place. I once made
An arrow—I  positioned it under
A target—aiming it skyward

Through the red eye towards
Infinity—vertical through vortices.
Ready to pierce the celestial orrery.

Pulling the tendon back to my tender ear.

if every bottle is a soldier,


then I must be the war
of sidewalks vs. mirrors
and the sidewalks are mirrors shattered
and I’m in tatters

you drugged me through the underbelly
I caught things in the hooks I have
under  my belly

gleaming horizon teeth my resolve
absolve me from days
as brigades of clocks wipe their faces

with sharp concentric gesticulations of frozen gerundives
the sleeves of a minute’s shirts are tattered

as are my patterns, slow-motion,
I went to accept the keys to the city
the fans all paid their fare pinwheels
I had a city in my hair, fireworks above

they say there is a city on high
that is a glass mountain range
that only takes one ray of light
to cut to its ore, it explains why

that’s me, harlequin and assassin wannabe
just can’t procure a day job, however,
I have learned to juggle, bake bread,
hold liquor, echolocate, divine water, etc.

judge me not like a paycheck
not wearing bullets around my neck
not an albatross or pegasus mane for sale here

no snake oils, no unguents of eternal life
no omens hung around the necks
of buxom beauties or shackled oddities

scattered shards of jukebox parts litter the parks
read the spilt songs like leaves in  paper cups


as I say these things to you
someone is being stabbed to death
as they lie dying they think of saying
inane things to a loved one

the inane things the most important


the viola begins to play.

the way we are disheveling
is a ragged epic, no one’s fault
that the winds have always required
that the sails should be sewn
from previous epics, the shirts of the past
minute lyrics, the rips in the apostasies

and there are Sumo wrestlers with Alzheimer’s
diseased,  grunting in the sun, expressions
of elemental gods personified, wrestling in saltspray
with candorous grace, the object is to take
the weight of the world off of your back
and put it on the back of your opponent

a noble and honorable sport,
an attack upon one’s own self
is a heart.  what is a heart attack then?

sew the epics together
and the wrestlers trample on the sails
making mockery of the wind
circling in slow elliptics, concentrics

the violas continue to play
as we attack?


the surrealist may not interview me
I said to the praying mantis

the camera kills its mates
after clicking fornications

the Dadaist may not interview me
I said to the ceiling fan blade

but, the dumbass over there, the entomologist
is allowed to show me the paintings of his lucid dreams

the ones with the cameras like insects


my muse is sick,
she all inclusive

cacophonous endorphic


a trawl is a large cone shaped net dragged along
the sea bottom for fishing purposes.  like walking
across the ocean floor with your eyes open


I made love to the moon last night, I said.

The man who had just cut down the moon
with a broken lightbulb shard calls me

a braggart,
he then tries to sell me a piece of her


the Sumo wrestler is a stargazer.
the entomologist fills tunnels
with moonlight, and its murderers
will always be here, the epic writers.

I am simply the heart’s braggart,
the heart attacker, the inane war
of sidewalks in tatters, the song
with swagger trawling forward

the song with swagger trawling forward

one month in new south ghetto

I saved the cork from the night I called you.

and in one month was a mugging and a cartheft
my mother’s car, which was my car, but my grandmother’s
car inherited by my mother and used as collateral
to secure a loan to pay off debt
from greyhound tracks, and this is as simple

as we all know it ever gets.  There was a near fatal
asthma attack in a basement, swamp apt., a bike
used as an assault weapon as phones slammed down
into their holsters all across this sample
of a universe, I put in my notice

and all the women in an inch radius of my temple
(none, I am a drama queen, I am all my own women)
slit their throats as I waded through tall grass
and flea colony moats

                        I saw God the Chattahoochee Baptist leave
                        a burning cigar behind

the notches it left were sky niches
and we all testified that a teen did it
another Rimbaud with a bad leg, an attitude

            I held my soulpelt up
            and achieved the rejection again

but the void throws another comet
like a rotten peach pitched across a park blooming

            and these are the fruits of it
            and I am a pickpocket of light
            and I steal light from keyholes

And tonight I wrap the cork I popped when I called you
inside the receipt from the gas I bought

            to drive me to you, from a swamp to a vineyard
like a comet through every city park
like on a Sunday a thrown bottle
            at a wall after a sermon


Douglas Polk- Three Poems


she calms my soul,
with a look,
a nod of her head,
gives me strength,
her patience unending,
the love of my life.


the day breaks among cloudy skies,
orange and gray,
with only patches of blue,
an omen of the day ahead,
or only the meteorology of the moment at hand,
time shall be the judge.

An Explanation of Belief

God is a metaphor for life,
the personification of life,
life creates quality and value,
without life there is no quality,
there is no value,
without God,
the same can be said,
value and quality once created never dies,
but eternal and everlasting,
scripture searches for quality and value,
attempts to define and discover,
quality and value,
Jesus Christ calls us as Christians to be life sustaining,
our actions,
good or bad,
possess quality and value,
eternal and everlasting,
we are created in God's image,
we also have the ability to create life,
sex is sacred because it is life giving,
if sex creates no life,
it becomes a selfish act,
an explanation of belief,
eternal and everlasting.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bradford Middleton- Three Poems


The drinking got me writing again
And man do I need to vent
Cos life right now truly sucks
The job is at its worst with threats
From bosses and me contemplating a big move
Back to London for better or worse

But I cant go back
Not enough money for a start
And where would I live?
In a hovel just as bad, if not worse, than here

This rented room is a nightmare
Full of jobs to be done or possibly just give up
Either get used to living in this dump
Or get out for good
Out to the suburbs for another rented room
Which I can grow used to just in time to move on again


The sun is hurting my eyes
But it’s the only thing keeping me warm
Because when the wind and rain return or
Night time falls it really makes
It a struggle just to stay in and be warm

This is 21st century living on the coldest of days
Not enough money to keep me warm
So I have to use the warmth of the sun
To stop me from freezing to death
In the battle of Mother Nature


When times are hard I find it easy
As I’ve never had it any other way
Hard times are difficult for some
Especially those who’ve had it all
But me, I’ve never had anything

Outside of my beer and my food
And those narcotics I need
I really don’t need anything else
Just a roof over my head and some
Pennies for my heater

Hard times aren’t good times
Like some would have you believe
They are just easier to deal with
If you started out with nothing
Like I do and always will

This isn’t how life is meant to be lived
But at the bottom it’s always easier
To own nothing at all
As at least then you ain’t got anything to lose
When the times get hard again

Sergio A. Ortiz- Three Poems

for Gertrude Stein

yes, I was cancelled,
an abyss below my bed
yet I was cancelled
nobody came, nobody came—
unknown shore— I’m enraptured

for Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven

bane aging
hip pains -- walk
 -- -- -- S. O. S.  memory
treads caution

Tribute to Cid Corman

There is a voice
in the dense space
of silence,

leaning on the sun and

in the community of words,
that weave simple possibilities.

Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He lives in San Juan Puerto Rico.  He is a four-time nominee for the 2010-2011 Sundress Best of the Web Anthology, and a two-time 2010 Pushcart nominee.

Robert Lavett Smith- Two Poems


"As to the amount of strain on the intellect now.
Was you thinking at all of poetry?" Mr. Wegg
inquired, musing.
"Would it come dearer?" Mr. Boffin asked.
"It would come dearer," Mr. Wegg returned.
"For when a person comes to grind off poetry
night after night, it is but right he should
expect to be paid for its weakening effect on
his mind."
—Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

The Psalms have always
been good enough for him.

This new stuff doesn't make sense.

Why, for instance, is April,
season of lilacs and gauze-pale skies,
the "cruelest month," unless
it has something to do with income tax?

How much could possibly depend
upon so insignificant a thing
as a red wheel
probably already forgotten
by the unseen farmer—
and maybe even by the poet,
since it only seemed to warrant
eight short, simple lines?

Fog, as far as he knows,
doesn't have feet,
feline or otherwise.

And some poems he finds
even more ominous
and disturbing.

Take Allen Ginsberg, whoever he is.
Igneous knows the King James Version
chapter and verse, fore and reverse,
from beginning to end,
but can't help feeling
that something besides the righteous
indignation of the Old Testament
may underlie the bit about a:

...partition in a Turkish bath
when the blond and naked
angel came to pierce them
with a sword...

Frost, he remembers at the inauguration,
Reading his wind-blown verse before the nation.
(No one could make much sense of it, it's true—
But at least it rhymed, and had a rhythm too.)

The Belle—of Amherst—
Makes him think—
Of members—of his flock—
Secretly much—consumed—by Drink—
But never—prone—to talk.

Still, he draws the line at:

What a thrill———
My thumb instead of an onion.

The rest—red plush, hinge of skin—
is quite disgusting, and written
by a woman, no less!

The good Reverend pushes
the library books aside
in despair, bewilderment, and revulsion.
Perhaps the Sunday School
will have to do without a special reading
by their Senior Pastor, in honor
of National Poetry Month.

Alone in his darkening study,
Igneous takes down
his well-thumbed Bible
and begins to recite aloud.
His voice, rich as warm molasses,
fills all the shadowy corners
of the room:

Yea, though I walk
through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil...


"It's wot's behind me that I am."
—Krazy Kat

He remembers the comic strip fondly
from a strange little book he found
while playing in his grandmother's attic
as a boy: the faded cardboard covers
warped, the curiously wide pages intact
although disfigured by a brown
blossoming of water stains.

From the first words,
this unassuming volume
spoke to him—directly,
without artifice or pretense:

Krazy Kat was a simple soul
who didn't understand much
that went on around him.

A few years later, on Saturdays
at the local matinee,
he laughed with schoolmates
as the antics of Mrs. Quakk Wakk and Offissa Pupp
flickered across a buckled screen.

But it was Ignatz Mouse
whom Igneous most loved—
perhaps because the broken name
so closely mirrored his own;
perhaps because Krazy Kat,
her very gender shifting and ambiguous,
her dialect all jumbled vowels,
was apt to refer to her crony
as "Ignatz Mice,"
somehow suggesting multitudes
contained within one tiny form.

Mostly, it was the name.
As a young child, Igneous
had disliked his, reshaping it
through endless permutations
into things his restless childhood
might find an easier fit.

But like Ignatz, he had come to see it as:

A name with euphony.
A name with harmony.
A name with dignity.

It was not until many years later
that Igneous, well into middle age
and pastor of a large and thriving church,
discovered that the cartoonist,
who signed his drawings simply "Herriman,"
with a scrawled "H" whose multiple crossbars
resembled the rungs of a ladder,
had been a man of color, a Creole
from New Orleans whose parents,
of French descent, had been listed
in the registries as mulattos.

Again, the suggestion of multitudes.
Igneous felt an even closer kinship
with Ignatz Mouse because of that.

But, although the Reverend Igneous Rock,
in the boundless charity of his Christian heart,
would be loath to admit it,
there is also the matter of the bricks.

To return to that book
he loved in childhood:

...when Ignatz was annoyed
he threw bricks. In fact,
Ignatz threw bricks when
he wasn't annoyed. He just
couldn't help it.

Igneous Rock always chuckles
when he recalls that pearl of wisdom.

The Reverend is not
a mean spirited man.
Not in the least.

But he likes it.

He just does.

Raised in New Jersey, Robert Lavett Smith has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is Smoke In Cold Weather: A Gathering of Sonnets (Full Court Press, 2013). A new collection, The Widower Considers Candles, will be forthcoming from the same press in 2015.

Gene McCormick- Three Poems


Sitting on a straight-backed armless wooden chair
moved from the kitchen table to the living room
beside an open window facing west,
the sitter’s face is half-hidden by an evening shadow
rendering features vague
if not unrecognizable. Hands clasp,
unclasp, clasp, feet flat to the floor.
A book lies open, facedown on the hardwood floor.
Next to it, a tipped over glass.
From outside the window, a sound;
it’s nothing. Nobody is looking out
nor does anyone look in.
Just rain tapping the sill.
In the far corner a cardboard box
of books, red, blue, green, all colors.
The sides bulge; unpacked, the box
has been there for years.
In five hours it will be Wednesday.
In eleven hours, daybreak.

Wine & Cheesy

Don’t leave. Stay a while.
I’m celebrating.
At a social function last night,
wine and cheese,
I propositioned two women
who both said Yes
after much wine.
One married, one single.
I lied about my age;
so did they.
Exaggerated my capabilities;
so did they.
Cheryl and Shelly
are their names.
Only one of them
asked mine.

Coffee Break
After having sex with his secretary or another co-worker (but usually his secretary) in his mostly private and fairly soundproof yet accommodating office, it’s his habit to walk down the seven flights of stairs to the street level, jaywalk to the used bookstore and select a children’s book to read, always fully illustrated with bright colored drawings of pre-schoolers at play with yellow tops, red pants or skirts and running over green grass with happy faces. He then goes next door to the independent coffee shop and slowly turns the pages, running his hands over the primary-colored illustrations, and drinks a large cup of black coffee while sitting at his favorite corner table. He does this once a week or so, on a Tuesday or Wednesday. When he leaves he sticks the book into the magazine rack for others to enjoy.

Jennifer Lagier- Three Poems & Photos

Chihuly Canoes
This is a voyage caught in the doldrums,
bright floats mounded inside a white row boat.
No sun or moon, blank black horizon.
Shrunken glass planets have been demoted,
dropped from cosmos to unmanned canoes,
float upon onyx, mingle with marbles.
Stacked spheres hatch fantastical tentacles,
lime green, cobalt blue, grasp infinity
within watchful darkness.

Chihuly Daisy Patch
Metallic daisies mingle with spiders.
Red claws splay, cup a curdled sky,
surround a silver dome seen in silhouette
as a passing monorail hums in a circle.
How crude our dreams--cartoon
machinery once cutting-edge fashion,
leftover artifacts of a futuristic world
now outdated, transcended.
Manufactured simplicity juts from
flower beds, abstract flora and fauna.
Robocop meets Rousseau;
artifice forms a fantastical garden.

Chihuly Undersea Vista
Scarlet kelp hangs from
a black velvet ceiling,
corrals yellow lily pads,
lime-green vegetation.
Blue and lavender tentacles
mime octopus and squid.
Faux anemones encircle
pink anchovies, violet jellyfish,
minimalist herons.
Two-toned seaweed ascends,
spirals to the apex
of cresting glass waves
where white spindrift spills,
orange coral flowers.

Jennifer Lagier was seduced by a serpent at an early age, transforming her into a Dead Snakes groupie.