Charlotte Viewpoint Feed This is the article feed for Charlotte ViewPoint Charlotte ViewPoint Copyright 2011 Charlotte ViewPoint en-us Sat, 23 Feb 2019 4:10:02 Sat, 23 Feb 2019 4:10:02 Charlotte ViewPoint Logo Charlotte ViewPoint Image 222 34 <![CDATA[July Journal #14]]>








Transforming pinkish green to scarlet

and sour firmness into lavish

juice, the time of night works its magic. 

Stars in their contented ignorance

neither watch nor turn away.  The moon

simply slices down the western rim

and vanishes.  Alone on separate

stems, tomatoes are plumping themselves

up for dawn and dew.  They are early

risers.  Decked in all their readiness,

coyness is a bold disguise to hide

their unrestrained seductions.  Wrapped in

a soft nocturnal glow, Look, they sing,

we’ll debauch and over-brim your chin.


]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Don Mager Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[July Journal #5]]>








A glass half full of good Shiraz sits on

the deck rail long after the other glass,

the conversation and four bare feet

have moved inside.  The time has come when

mosquitoes, no longer pacified

by heavy air, hunger for blood, and it

has gone. The sun’s last shafts strike garnets

ablaze in the wine where two sluggish hornets

flail.  A small slug and its mica trail

inch up toward the lip. The candle, sput-

tering to a wad of dried pink slime

like chewed discarded bubble gum, dies

on the redwood table in its cup.


Image courtesy of Lesley via Creative Commons.


]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Don Mager Mon, 19 May 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[July Journal #22]]>







Sunset wilts slowly behind the bank

of busy dark trees.  Already in

full white stride the moon roars in, in bold

control of the eastern sky.  Stars dare

not compete.  Like a small tug ahead

of a huge lit barge, the twittering

light of an airplane guides its silent

arrow above the pregnant wholeness,

then, severing the umbilical,

moves apart.  Moon needs no guidance.  It

knows its way.  From park trails, bus stops,

porches and cars held hostage at red

traffic lights, its brazen confidence

attracts swarms of admiring eyes.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Don Mager Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Spoken Word Sensations: The Sacrificial Poets]]>

In an age dominated by invisible marketing tricks, political puppeteers and capitalistic propaganda, silence is akin to surrender. There are only a few who give voice to this social injustice, but they also speak of race and gender; of prejudice and laws; of social class and political status – challenging all the ideas by which we live every day. By this definition, some would call them anarchists, others idealists. But in reality, they are simply poets.

More specifically, the Sacrificial Poets – the award-winning, nonprofit group of spoken word poets from North Carolina – who, according to their website, seek to “use the spoken and written word to activate, nurture and amplify youth voices through creative expression, self-exploration and the cultivation of safe spaces.” As with traditional spoken word poetry, they do not seek to empower youth, but instead teach youth how to empower themselves.

The Sacrificial Poets were first established in 2005 at UNC Chapel Hill, originally under the name Chapel Hill Slam Team. The group of eight later changed their name after the tragic murder of one of their founding members, Irina Yarmolenko, in May 2008. Because the “sacrificial poet” in a poetry slam is the one who first touches the stage and warms up the audience for the competition, Yarmolenko metaphorically became the ultimate sacrificial poet, having given  muchof her time and energy to the success of the team. To her fellow members, her tragically short life has become the sacrificial poem, inspiring all those around her.

Poetry has always offered a strong sense of inspiration as part of its allure. It actually predates literacy as a form of art, as it was used to memorize oral history, stories and laws. The beats and patterns of poetry facilitated this process, allowing those who learned these poems to mimic the pattern when passing the information to others. Modern slam poetry has roots in dub poetry, hip-hop, and Jamaican toasting, having transformed from a combination of spoken word with rhymes and reggae beats. Some elements in spoken word poetry even resemble gospel music, with its emphasis on the interactive call-and-response experience between speaker and listener. In the same way an audience at a liturgy would respond to the speaker with an “Amen”, poetry audiences provide feedback in the form of snaps and “Mmm-mmm’s.”

As a series of poets or teams hit the stage successively to narrate their pieces, the audience’s feedback becomes an essential element in the performance. Not only do audience members judge and rate the poets, they also become a part of the recited piece, allowing the speaker to connect more deeply with the listeners. In that way, a safe space is created; where the poet, like the preacher, establishes a welcoming environment where ideas can manifest in countless ways. This is the power of poetry and this is what the Sacrificial Poets specialize in: teaching youth how to tap into this ability.

As the Artistic Director of the Sacrificial Poets, National Slam Poet Kane Smego is responsible for maintaining and operating the group’s YouTH ink curriculum. It is designed to teach youth how to use their differences and diversity as a strength. This is achieved through the workshops they hold in middle school, high school and college in which students are asked to write poems about anything they’d like and are then asked to share these poems with the class if so inclined.

In these workshops, “safe spaces” are important because students can freely express themselves without fear of judgment, persecution or humiliation, as it’s all about understanding each other. The Sacrificial Poets educate these kids and young adults in understanding their differences and diversity to promote a more cohesive future. “All the people who are the leaders now, who are in power now, who are the doctors and the politicians and the lawyers,” says Smego, “those will be the people who are being born now, who are in middle school now, who are in high school now. We believe that our calling is to work with that young generation, to help them as they’re just beginning to blossom.”

The Sacrificial Poets believe that youth is the most marginalized of all demographics – that they are the ones whose voices most often go unheard. They do not have the power to make most of their own decisions and their interests are often not considered by those in control. That’s especially true in our culture, where commercialization is targeted at “brain-washed” teens who fit into neat marketing categories defined by stereotypes in modern society. 

Will McInerney, executive director of the Sacrificial Poets, says the group aims to provide youth with the tools to let their authentic voices be heard. “One of the things that we try to do in this organization is to create a really intentional environment, where young people can empower themselves through their own story, with their own voice,” he says. “If you don’t tell your story, somebody else will.”

One of the most important things about the process is self-disclosure. Onstage, poets reveal a lot about themselves, who they are and what they believe, echoing the “safe zones” the Sacrificial Poets’ workshops encourage. This was effectively demonstrated by youth poets in UNC Charlotte’s Cone after hours event space during a presentation directed by the Sacrificial Poets on October 2013. Celeste McCants shared a piece about her internal struggles with her Christian faith. Her poem outlined a conversation in her head, effectively revealing a lot about herself in the process. 

Another poet, Jasmine Farmer, revealed her thoughts on a YouTube video that stereotyped blacks. According to Farmer, the video was a parody of Nicki Minaj’s Beez in the Trap, and the video’s creator was a Caucasian male that claimed to “Be’s with the blacks,” but Farmer questioned his understanding of Black oppression and the battles they fought for equality – she assures the audience that this man does not know what it’s like to be with the blacks.

According to Farmer, the Teaching Artist with the Sacrificial Poets, the process of speaking your thoughts and feelings out loud is a healing process like no other. “Sometimes, things don’t become real until you say them, and you think, ‘Wow, this happened to me,’” she says. “Being able to get that weight off your shoulders allows you to move on and help other people with their emotions.” Farmer, who is also the youth mentor at only 19 years-old, also talked about poetry in the form of a natural conversation. She says they’re very similar because the audience gives feedback and you can feel the community of people in the room supporting you.

Much like a room full of sports fanatics or music fans, the room exploded with snaps of approval when Farmer walked off-stage after her piece.“It’s hard, no one gets used to telling their deepest darkest secrets, but the healing that comes from that is well worth it,” says Farmer. Some might find it difficult to share personal stories this openly, but the idea is that if others in the audience have similar experiences, bonds will be made and fears overcome.

Poetry doesn’t always have to be sad or depressing. McInerney performed an excellent piece on the omplications involving his feet that turned a morbid moment into a comedic situation. “Humor has always been really hard for me,” admits McInerney, “I have a lot of respect for comedy and comedians. It’s strategic; it’s creative; it’s a manipulation of words to achieve a desired goal. In poetry, a lot of times, we’re trying to get you to see something in a different light.”

In his poem, McInerney analyzes the difficulties of living with abnormally large feet in sarcastic situations through humor, but also reveals it got so bad that the only solution was an experimental surgery that only had a 50 percent success rate – and if it failed, he would be unable to walk again. “With my feet, they’re a big part of my life because of the complexities going on there. The idea came from the whole ‘9’ thing, she [the doctor] said I was a 9 out of 10 – that’s how bad it was.” McInerney expresses gratitude for the ability to walk in his poem, despite all the difficulties he faces, but he ends his poem with more humor – “She did say I was a 9 out of 10, after all.”

To the Sacrificial Poets, spoken and written word is more than just a powerful tool – it’s a way of life. It gives youth the power to stand up and speak up. It demands attention and is fearless in bringing forth matters of race, gender, social status, sexual orientation, religion and love. It lets youth put themselves out there, exposed for all to see, and in turn offers the opportunity to grow stronger after every experience.

CJ Suitt, the youth outreach coordinator and co-author of the YouTH ink curriculum, put it best: “Spoken word does not happen in a vacuum. We bring it to each other, sitting down with it and letting someone else hear it, getting feedback from the folks you love and respect. That’s what it’s all about – community.”

]]>]]-The-Sacrificial-Poets Key/Words/Entered/Here Kevin Granados Sun, 23 Mar 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Elements Conspire to Steal a Hat]]>








She doesn’t work weekends

for four-fifty and tips to concede

her one extravagance to the wind.

Gusts upwards of sixty rattle plate glass,

upend planters, send news sailing.

Street signs bow in deference.

The corn-fed waitress leans into the wind

one arm over hat and head,

feet braced for twisters.

It’s all she can do to maintain her balance

to say nothing of her dignity,

but she has cats to feed.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Jack Dillard Wed, 5 Mar 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Save me.]]>

I’m falling in her mind. In her mind I’m flailing and falling, never landing, just falling. I’m screaming cries unheard.

She squints the squint of one whose grown tiresome of small children pulling at her dress though her children are grown and gone and don’t write, ever. She hates them.

Abhors the day she brought each into the world.

It was she who was breached in this selfless act.

This place in her mind where I’ve gone is used infrequently. She’s collected me without warning and deposited me in her cluttered dustbin of cranial detritus.

She keeps all manner of oddities there. Memories of dogs that almost bit her and boyfriends that didn’t come but pretended to. Stray flecks of lint and the crust from her eyes after her dreamless sleep.

She rubs her eyes while sitting on the toilet for her first shit of the morning. She’ll likely shit three or four more times before lunch while I flail valiantly in her mind.

I fall with increasing velocity.

Stretching my neck out with a Munch-like hollowed O pursed upon my lips, I feel the pain of absence of pain. I ache in anticipation. Falling in her mind through eternity’s limbo, grotesque and misshapen my predicament amuses her.

Save me.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Michael J. Solender Fri, 14 Feb 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Landscape in the Rain]]>








Who would dare
   to paint the rain
      except one who knows

the sound upon the pane—
   to make a landscape
      then dampen the village—

July when all is green
   cypresses taller than
      roofs—what the eye retains

can the mind forget—
   those crows with extended wings
       above the crops aren’t startled

by the crack of simulated
   gunshot—nothing falls from the sky
      but summer rain

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Gail Peck Fri, 7 Feb 2014 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Ashes to Ashes]]>








We removed the butts from her ashtray
in deference to her family of nonsmokers.

Defiant to the end, she broke house rules
even from her death bed.

Into a drawer, we stashed the makeshift ashtray,
a monogrammed Mother’s Day compact.

Propped by pillows for reading and greeting,
she required no primping.

I stopped short of removing an open book:
Cards On The Table by Agatha Christie.

Her cold lips and mouth formed a frown
more pronounced by smoker’s wrinkles.

Everyone should love something
as much as she loved smoking.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Jack Dillard Fri, 31 Jan 2014 12:00:00








You bashfully disrobe
by the settee
and coffee table
laden with flowers.

There is comfort
in the dim studio lighting,
a decorative pillow,
a knitted throw.

I direct your pose
but you rearrange yourself
as I explore the curve
of your being,
your half-closed eyes,
your mysterious smile.

At the easel I adjust
the small light to my side
not knowing where to begin.
Your horizon unknown,
your landscape unexplored.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Jonathan K. Rice Mon, 9 Dec 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[The Night the Moon Landed]]>








I see it now, flung up in the night
the size of a quarter, maybe a nickel.

Those summer evenings we played late
until street lights hummed on,
until constellations of fireflies lit our lawns,
live stars caught in our hands. My friend
Mindy, thin as a twig, the best
runner. We ran in utter yes. Without
a pebble of doubt, we ran
towards that glow at the end of the road.
Not the familiar man’s face
full of dull surprise, but craters
close enough to touch. We knew
it was possible for mankind
to walk on the moon. One small
step at a time. Our flip-flops flapped
and someone laughed -- a man, some dad.
You can’t, he said, you couldn’t, you shouldn’t
even try.

We ran one block, maybe two,
our shoes soon heavy as lead-lined boots.
Last I remember, we were breathless
in the dark, the moon bright before us. Fools
for the celestial illusion.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Lisa Zerkle Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Still Life with Birds’ Nests ]]>








                                       after van Gogh, 1885

the possibility
     of life, those eggs
blue and cream—one

so dark almost invisible
    two nests close together,
another propped

on a branch—
     no wings, nothing
fluttering in or out

with straw
     in beak
determined to make

what will hold—
    see how
the light is braided

in straw, debris—
    to pluck a strand
from the whole

seemingly easy
    at least from
the outer edge, but

not the center
    where eggs lie

the first
    fissure, then
the struggle,

who will survive,
    breaking silence
into refrain

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Gail Peck Fri, 4 Oct 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[My Eternity]]>








Remembering her—
Time flows like amber
Down the gentle slope
Of then to now and…

Here I am
A fossil
This barely viscous resin
Moving ever so slowly
Through my eternity—

A beautiful
Softly glowing hell

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here J. K. Beach Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Eating Pizza with a Buddhist Monk]]>

This project was so good, it's worth a second look. Last April, Fiction & Poetry Editor Nicole Gause and Director of Video Donald Devet teamed up in celebration of National Poetry Month. Donald produced a short visualization of four poems, marrying image, sound and word. Here's one.





Like a temple offering,

rice, couscous, vegetables, 

fruit we have brought to share.

In the center, a circle of pizza,

the entire universe.  On his plate 

a single slice.   Too many 

memories fill us;  the future’s 

too much to swallow;

             when a Buddhist eats, he eats.

Shaven head bowed 

over his meal, he chews

slowly as you would expect,  

silence vast as miles 

to the mountains of Tibet,

maroon robes spilling

as he rises. 

         When he carries his plate 

          he carries his plate.

We sit awhile speaking 

few words into the distance

between us:  language, beliefs,

elevation.    Before our meal

his deep chanting hummed 

the room, rumbled inside me. 

A finger brown as cinnamon

points to a postcard.  Lhasa. 

           When he waits, he waits

as one beneath the bodhi tree, 

patient refugee who can’t go home.

Where is home for anyone? 

I want to embrace him 

but hold only the light 

of his dark eyes, the mystery. 

           When he smiles, he smiles.




]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Ione O'Hara Mon, 23 Sep 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[The Dogs]]>

Pavlov’s Best Friend

During his research on conditioned reflexes, Pavlov concocted new surgical techniques that allowed him to study the inner digestive workings of healthy animals over extended periods of time.


I never once doubted the Master when he cut a permanent hole in my abdominal wall, and I would still last for fourteen years. He used to peer through the opening, watched my innards and what they were supposed to do. His fixation sometimes worried me; the lab girls gossiped about how he talked in his sleep, murmured about “the gastrointestinal secretions will dissolve, the gastrointestinal secretions will dissolve –”

The Master could carve my guts as well, if he would only scratch me behind the ears. He never did; his hands were always gloved. I did not know that I was very filthy.


Pavlov discovered that dogs could be conditioned to distinguish between two ringing bells that had similar pitch: one that brought food and one that did not.


That bell again. The ringing earlier was a trick; it was slightly off-key. This one was the real deal. Oh, I knew that the sound of footsteps was next, then the same bland food. Feeding time was routine. I really did not want to salivate, but the Master was salivating for me to salivate, and I should not disappoint him.

I never dreamed that these people would let me go someday, but perhaps, if I were nice enough to do what they expected me to do, then there was a chance out of this kennel, away from these steel bars and tubes and gaskets and valves and locks.

The other dogs also believed the same thing: salivate at the right pitch, please the semi-balding Master.


If the sound of the bells were identical that the dog could not tell them apart, then it would develop a neurotic behavior.


That’s it! That's the correct sound, right? The footsteps—they should be here by now! Wait, another ringing. Yes, that’s the one for food. Salivate. Salivate. Salivate. The Master wants me to salivate. No? The footsteps! Where are the footsteps! My paws are bloody now, although I haven’t been scratching too hard.

There is dust everywhere; I wonder what they are trying to conceal. The other dogs are bashing the wires of their cages. Noses—all bloody, all bloody, all bloody. What good is revenge when you cannot draw blood? What good is revenge when all gods are made of ringing bells? What are these wires for? The patterns make me dizzy. Must salivate. Must salivate. Must salivate. Must salivate. Must salivate. Must salivate. #

Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel Prize in 1904.


The Two-Headed Dog of Vladimir Demikhov

In 1954, I was the first among the twenty two-headed dogs sawed and assembled by the much lauded Vladimir Demikhov.

You could call me a hybrid. That was how one of Dr. Demikhov’s assistants referred to me before he was fired for giving me more food than what was specified in the protocol. He felt sorry for me, I guess. I also knew he wanted to pet me, but such blatant display of affection, especially in the confines of a lab, was not permitted.

Once, he surreptitiously handed me a chunk of meat, then he strategically positioned himself to conceal me eating inside my cage. He pretended to adjust a portion of the tubing suspended on top of my cage. Sweet man. I hope he lives a long, healthy, and happy life. I tore at the meat, a rapturous pork chop, then swallowed fast before anyone would notice and would have gotten the good man in trouble.

Look at me, a German shepherd with a little extra on my side—a grafted head of a puppy, shoulders and front limbs intact. When Dr. Demikhov, with the flourish of a magician sawing a body in half (although this time, he did make the actual sawing) unveiled me in public in what was basically an orchestrated paint-by-the-numbers circus display, the people in that event ooohed and aahed. Oh, they were easy to please. The freak show, yours truly, was made to lap at a bowl of milk so people could watch how the milk exited from—lo and behold—the dissociated neck that came with the puppy head.

You should see the face of the socialite in a satiny red dress. She nearly fainted.

As for the freeloading reporters from the national dailies, you could taste their excitement as they mentally thought up their possible headlines. FREAKY TWO-HEADED DOG UNVEILED! Or DOG WITH TWO HEADS, TRIUMPH OF SCIENCE. Oh, triumph. Do you even know what that word entails and at whose expense it comes with?

Now look at me and imagine being at the mercy of your handlers. Imagine the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when you die, all your life you run toward that light so you can leave the claustrophobic dark behind. But at the end of that tunnel, you discover that what you believe is white light and redemption is nothing but glass—transparent enough so you can see paradise on the other side, but thick and sturdy enough so you cannot break it. Imagine dying at the hands of your handler, knowing that he had meant for you to die, all the while enjoying the spectacle of making you lap at a bowl of milk not intended to serve as your sustenance. Like being fashioned into a contraption that served no purpose just because someone can.


The new lab assistant was Petra. That was what her name tag said. She seemed to have replaced the lanky lab assistant I was telling you about earlier, the one who showed, to my surprise, an interest in my welfare and who had secretly fed me the juicy pork chop. It was possible that when the security tapes (collected from an early prototype of grainy CCTV made by Siemens AG of Germany) were reviewed, my good man had been caught in an act described in the ten cardinal lab rules poster as “tampering with a test subject is a terminable offense.”

I hope the kind-hearted man was okay. I did not know his name. He did not have a name tag.


It was day 28. And you already know that this is one of those stories where someone, something dies at the end.

I lasted close to day 29. Cause of death: tissue rejection, the same reason for the deaths of the twenty more dogs that came after me. And throughout the course of those twenty deaths, the then Soviet Union rallied behind Dr. Demikhov and touted the country’s preeminence in the medical field.

What was truly fascinating about this ordeal was the clinical and unflinching eye for violence of many of the famous figures that had shaped the sciences. The hybrid-making race was on the moment I was unveiled in spectacular fashion during the 1954 half-circusy, half-scientific exhibition. Each nation then tried to best one another in creating surgically altered animals.

In 1970, a federal-funded experimental surgery by Robert White fused a monkey’s head onto another decapitated monkey’s body. Don’t ask me how I found out the details about the White drama when I supposedly died after 28 days of the surgical debacle in 1954. Sentience is what lingers long after we are physically gone. Besides, there is no such thing as an afterlife. It is an illusion we force onto ourselves. It is just one transparent glass stopper at the end of a farce, a darkened tunnel.

As for Dr. White’s monkey butchery saga, the purpose of which I still could not fathom, it ended with the monkey waking up in its new body, fury shining in its eyes and teeth snapping at our dearest Dr. White of Cleveland, Ohio in the US of A, land of the free and home of the brave. The monkey died after a day and a half. Cause of death: tissue rejection. Oh, Dr. White did not give up. Instead, he looked into a venture involving transplanting human heads. And not surprisingly, he had a volunteer, Craig Vetovitz, a near-quadriplegic.


Space Dog

I, Alpha Space Dog and only passenger of Sputnik 2, is trained to keep my head, paws, and tail inside the spacecraft at all times. I am the first animal launched into orbit and the first animal to be deliberately killed in space.

My real name is Kudryavka, Russian for “little curly,” then they changed it to Laika. I was a stray, and I thought God-Dog finally beamed Its mercy-paw on me when somebody took me from the streets of Moscow, scrubbed me clean, and fed me the tastiest, juiciest meat I ever had in my life.

There were three of us at first, three not-so-lonely but starving strays. They made us do a battery of buoyancy exercises, tabletop jogging, spin routine, the whole nine yards.

At the end of the training period, it was none other than the chief scientist, Dr. Gazenko, who picked me to board the space shuttle. He said I was in tiptop shape. I was also described as quiet, charming, not quarrelsome with the other dogs.

On November 3, 1957, they strapped me inside a snug-tight harness. What’s on my mind that time: I was looking forward to a juicy steak. They always gave me one each time I completed a task. The technician kissed my nose. Another hugged me tightly before strapping me in place inside a small capsule. That hug should have alerted me to what they had in store for me.

The core sustainer failed to automatically disengage from the payload, so I died by extreme overheating a few hours after launch.

In 1957, the Soviet government went all-out with their PR machine and told people that I was euthanized when the oxygen ran out on day six. I would have loved it had they given me poisoned food. That meant I could expire painlessly, while they could still get their readouts—temperature, radiation levels, etc. That would have been a gentler, friendlier way to die. What really happened eventually came out in 2002: excruciating death by boiling the internal organs, which was, unfortunately for me, not instantaneous.

I had my face on a postage stamp. I also got a monument. Have you seen my collectible stamp? I am gazing in the direction of the person who was coaxing me to behave for the camera because I was going to get a steak later. I was looking toward the direction of men. I was looking toward the direction of hope. In one corner, Dr. Gazenko seemed pleased and happy.

I thought I got the window seat, which was exciting. When they sealed the hatch, I could not see anything anymore. There were tiny lights before me. All the lights were strange and red and ominous. In an hour or two, the heat became unbearable. The thermal insulation was coming off. And there I was inside a space capsule without a window, orbiting the earth, slowly being cooked to death.

You should know that there are no speed bumps in zero gravity. Freefall is a wonderful experience, only if you are still alive to enjoy it. Oh, speed bumps would have been most welcome. I remember being in the backseat of a car once. I must have an owner that time. There is a child beside me, and he is giggling. The child’s mother is on the front seat. That’s as far as I can remember before I ended up prowling the farmers markets of Moscow. Speed bumps would have been nice, would have jolted me back to where I could be sitting right beside you—you could be that child or his mother. Inside the car, I remember a woman’s voice intoning, I know, I know. All you do is watch, hide, watch, hide. See that? Is she talking about the anger of the discarded, as it is the only thing in the world that is instantly recognizable? No one can look away from it without being changed. And that’s my kind of anger, the one felt by the discarded, the type of anger that matters the least for many people. When you look at me long enough, you might catch a glimpse of it. Do you feel changed? It’s true that we always grow back into our triumphant stable shapes, where we pose as if to contain something, something with a purpose, something with a will to entertain, to love, to hope. In my memory of being in the backseat of a car with people who appear to be my owners, the woman in the front seat and the small child giggling beside me, something must have happened. I just cannot remember what it is. But I know it is important. One of the child’s fingers is crusty with peanut butter. That stained little finger points out to something outside the car. Outside the moving car, there is so much to see. But there is no one out there to follow or to beckon with an arm that’s not yet fully formed. The child’s mother says, I told you not to touch, I told you not to touch... She may have been talking to me or to the child with the peanut-butter-coated finger. Outside the car, I think I see you. You are body. You are highway. You are bridge. You are water. You are mountain. You are space. You, who summons and aches to refill what has been lost, open your eyes. Look at me...

* The segment “Pavlov’s Best Friend” is a reworked version of a poem that first appeared in Abyss & Apex #27: 3rd Quarter 2008 and was reprinted in The 2009 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Poetry of 2008 (Science Fiction Poetry Association, August 2009).

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Kristine Ong Muslim Fri, 20 Sep 2013 12:00:00








It’s about
The way the
Dances in the caves
Of your nostrils
Down in Southeastern Virginia
And the feel
Of the mountain air
In Western North Carolina.
It’s about the memories we harbor
That still make us ache
For something,
Even if we don’t know what,
It is about the stories we tell ourselves
To give us hope.
It’s about the changing seasons,
That means to you.
It is the boat out to sea,
And the dream of Paris
With its striped shirts
And berets,
And delicatessens.
It is the hand out the window
And the squirrels racing
Down on the power lines.
It is the letter
You’re still writing,
Still half finished,
Still on your desk,
Still at home,
Beside that old book
That you’re still
Trying to get through.
With all its rough pages
From all those years of aging,
With that particular smell
That comes along
With the years
Of hardship and hardbacks
And hardheads.
And it is the conversation
You’ve been trying to have
Though awkwardly
At best.
It is the glass that
We see through darkly,
Wishing for a better view,
Our fingers crossed,
Our shoulders
Hunched over the railings
Standing on nothing but our toes,
Watching the barn swallows
Chase each other by the dock,
With a half-­‐moon smile
On our face.

It is about
Whatever you have
Or are making
With the time
You have been
And are giving back.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Ryan Scarberry Fri, 13 Sep 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[The Strain and Snap]]>

       With thanks to Elizabeth Bishop







Tinder smolders,
tainting air.

Not the stink of gangrene in a wounded
leg, but fingers

reaching for a bruise. The press
into flesh. Does it hurt? Does it still hurt?

Yes. A drop of blood in the carpet after murder,
one that tells the truth. Mercury in the mountain

stream, its toxic trace brought home
in the trout. Or like Bishop’s

fish, each of us punctured by the pins
of our medals, ribbons frayed and wavering.

Each day’s decision: allow the slow wallow,
a pig in shit. Be the vexed minnow awaiting

swallow. Or strip off the strangle
of kudzu, reach again for sun.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Lisa Zerkle Fri, 6 Sep 2013 12:00:00








My physicality, a fading memory—
faintly, I feel my body’s vibration,
as revelation rebukes fear.
I’m seeing the forest
because of the trees.

A black hummingbird,
I hover over discoveries,
memories not yet made,
and call them to be.

    lyrically, I
    flow and weave spiritual
    garments of haiku.

Shining, I swallow
eternity’s reconstruction—

    suffered, crucified
    resurrected and revealed—
    my heart overflows.

These oracles—
like a black hummingbird
reborn as prophet,
—I speak.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Foster Cameron Hunter Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:00:00









Small yellow card table
with miniature chairs sits in a corner.
Thin and flat children’s books are piled
haphazardly across the cartoon vinyl.

Wooden rocking horse
sits idle waiting for a rider
as I glance at the faces of kids
who don’t want to be here.

Inoculation brings a cry from
down the hall beyond
the heavy door. I try not to flinch
at the scream of discomfort.

I read a magazine on how to raise kids
and look at ease like I’m supposed to.
(Children can sense tension
like animals sense fear.)

A child tightens up when a nurse
appears with an antiseptic smile,
white legs and big shoes.

I comfort my son with an arm
around him as he lies across my lap.
I tell him, it’ll be all right,

but I’m not sure he’s convinced.
We both jump when someone
calls our name. He takes my hand,
assures me, it’s okay dad.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Jonathan K. Rice Fri, 23 Aug 2013 12:00:00








It was purely candid,
A surprise to you,
As you were met
By a camera,
Pointed at you
When you turned around
In the kitchen,
Behind the counter.

The face
I’ve seen so many times
Sitting across
The dinner table.
Those hands
Working through a steak
Around 5 o’clock.

Those sacred moments
Locked in time
And memory of
That year and a half or so
We spent at that old house
With so much to say,
So much to hold in our
Carrying laundry
Down the halls,
Dropping socks here and there;
Small traces
Of existence and forgetfulness.

Our mumbled prayers,
Unsure of what to say
And what to ask for
As Jesus bends his ear down
To hear us
Whatever it was we
Were trying to say.

Such a different view
I have now
Than I did
Years ago,
Growing up.
Still, looking back in
Through the bay window.
The river still running
Through the marsh behind me.

And you still,
Planting seeds
Into the deep soil
Of my every day.

Even now,
From however
Many miles
You are
From here.

That in every
Spring of the soul,
Each petal
Stretches itself out
To be warmed by the sun
Of your planting.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Ryan Scarberry Fri, 16 Aug 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Ropes, Rhymes & Dreams]]>








Pretty brown girl,
Popping gum, skipping rope,
Kinks & coils defy gravity,
White shell toe shoes,
Tip, tap, past reality,


Past the dope man’s corner
And the ricochet of gun shots,
Sending sass and smiles,
To the boys grinding,
For the next rim shot,


Pretty brown eyes,
Swaying nylon fibers,
Lanky bowlegs, mid-air
Matching inner-city dreams,
Jumping higher & higher!


Cheers & laughter,
Mix with sweat from July heat,
Chanting rhymes about a princess,
To an infectious beat,
Voices rise up, all at once, all together,
This is the only time she’s ever Cinderella


Voices rise up, all at once, all together,
This is the only time she’s ever Cinderella

]]>,-Rhymes--amp--Dreams Key/Words/Entered/Here Katina Winkey Fri, 9 Aug 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Charlotte to Portland]]>








Two decades in a city of trees, getting to know
the landscape of gentility, old ways, the foreign growth
of displaced vines, intrusive but controlled ––

How many times did she wonder what might be,
what shoots of imagination might thrive and bloom
if the natives put down their trimmers and shears,

bartered their prized flowers for seeds of unknown variety,
cast them into the hard, settled clay of their gardens,
and waited to see untamed forests rise in their place.

She knew that such cultivation would not take root in
the still-life painting around her, an eternal arrangement
whose stasis crowded her mind like weeds; she knew

and so she left. Now, in a wilder place where tangles of ideas
flourish, where pioneers let growth prune and shape them,
she still awaits a season of organic surprise in that other place,

that city of trees, that lies dormant, like a seed,
ready to be awakened by the light.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Jeanette Leardi Fri, 2 Aug 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Swimming Lessons 1967]]>








All week
I have had more fun
than I knew
I could.
The smell of chlorine
and Coppertone
makes me woozy.

It’s Friday. It’s skills day.
If I get my certificate
I’ll get privileges
at the pool, maybe at home, too.
I hope.
I am doing it all. With flash.
As long as Jackie, the lovely lifeguard
is close and my toes can
brush the smooth sea blue bottom
whenever I bob, I’m fine.
With rolling eyes and big sighs,
I let Miss Jackie know I am insulted
when she asks me to do
what we already know I can.
I dog paddle, I blow bubbles
while she counts.
I use the kickboard to chug
from one side to the other.
Whatever Jackie asks of the class, I do it first.
With style.

Final skill. Get out of the pool.
Walk to the deep end.
Jump in, meet Jackie in the middle
and paddle to the other side.
Everyone else has already done it. Even the whiny mama’s boy
who clung like wet paper to Jackie the first day.
Here I stand. Everyone else is drying off already.
I feel ridges in the cement
under my feet.
The water drips from me
cooling this patch I can’t budge from.
Sea blue, blue bottom 10 feet down.
I can’t find it. I’m confused. I see my reflection
under the sierra blue sky, sky deeper
than the deep end. I see up, not down.
I’m thinking of “forever” again
and the scary prayers I pray at night.
Everything is so quiet.
Jackie calls to me.
It’s all right. Come in!
Now it’s quiet again.
The world is waiting for me.
The pool is so still, a true mirror.
The summer morning air 
is light with promise. 
My mother is rising from her lounger 
and coming toward me. 
She assures me in my ear 
it’s fine to throw myself into that sky. 
I love my mother. I like Jackie. 
It’s not that I don’t believe them. 
They just don’t know.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Suzanne Leitner Fri, 26 Jul 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[How to Hold a Grudge]]>








Open your shirt, let it nurse
at your breast. Let kitten-sharp teeth
tear bits of flesh on the way
to your heart.

Stroke its cool scales, its unfurrowed brow.
With each caress, stoke the righteous ire
flashing in its amber eyes. Years those embers glow,
nurtured by your devoted tending.

But if it keeps you up at night
and you tire of cries, cover
that bloody mouth with your pillow.
Don’t stop, though it kicks and screams

and the air fills with sulfur.
Keep hands and knees pressed to feathers
until thrashing and twitching cease.
Only then can you let go. Stand up.

Turn your back. Don’t look. Even
when you hear it slump to the floor. Don’t
call out. Listen for the sound of tiny hooves
clicking down the hall, the back door latch.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Lisa Zerkle Fri, 19 Jul 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[July Journal #10]]>








Sky pours into its bowl a thick gruel
of afternoon and heat and haze. The
mix ferments and bubbles. Oxygen
sucks in. Gassy fumes pour out. The bowl
inverts to spread a smoky beery
staleness. Flatulence oozes over
lawns and up on porches. It fills small
useless shadows squeezed around tree roots.
With slow deliberateness it sucks life
from passing time until lifeless hours
lie lifelessly for hours. Heaving up
one plastic bag-stuffed dumpster after
the next, garbage trucks grind down the street.
Their well-soured rantings feel right at home.


]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Don Mager Fri, 12 Jul 2013 12:00:00









The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized.

The Revolution will not be brought to you
by a corporate pig with Apple in his mouth,
nor will Microsoft release their version
of the Revolution, shown to you through
money-green tinted Windows, because there is no
view of its revelation from any vantage point
on their Vista. You will not be able to login to,
“save as”, or Google the Revolution.

The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized.

The Revolution will not be unloaded to YouTube,
or streamed live on The Revolution
will not be blogged about, chatted about, or tweeted out.
The Revolution will not be embedded, encrypted
or password protected, cannot be hacked, is immune
to viral attack, free from bugs and too deep for phishing.
The Revolution will need no parental controls, will not
be sold at 30 percent off on Amazon or up for bid on eBay.

The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized.
The Revolution will not be digitized

The Revolution will not be served as hors d'oeuvres
at your Tea Party, it is not microwavable. The Revolution
will not be held hostage at gun point by your Conservative Party,
it is bullet proof. The Revolution will not be aborted
while still kicking by your Liberal Party, it will not die
before it dominates. The Revolution will not be financed
by the World Bank, because the Revolution creates wealth.
When the Revolution is crystallized, finally, society will be fully spiritualized.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Foster Cameron Hunter Fri, 5 Jul 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Weymouth Morning]]>








       for James Autio

Waking to the song of birds
breaking the night’s silence—
yellow warblers, cardinals,

and vireos—each hitting
its coded note, singing
in the key of C and sunrise

as faux birds of styrofoam
and feathers float from fish line
on a mobile of immobile, flightless

birds hanging from the ceiling: 
white doves with ruby eyes, pink
wrens and peach-plumed sparrows

mute to the calls of birds outside.
Yesterday I tried to write a poem
but like a paper crane on strings

or the tongue-cut sparrow
in Shita-kiri Suzume,
I was wounded and silent.

I run my hand over the cover of
my notebook where a friend painted
a crow, touching brush strokes

of smoke-whorled wings.
Morning opens another blank page.
I write as the mockingbird sings.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Beth Copeland Fri, 28 Jun 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Celebrating Juneteenth]]>










The hopes and dreams of a people
were carried on the backs of slaves,
the stripes that covered them
told the story of their pain.
Aching hands worked tireless hours,
then made delicious meals from scraps.
Swollen feet walked miles
to gather wood,
then jumped the broom at their wedding.
Voices silenced by intimidation and fear
sang praise songs on Sunday morn.
Eyes that witnessed gruesome cruelty
saw a bright future in their children’s eyes.
Skin covered in spit and dirt
weathered many storms and survived.
Ears that heard ugly names and put downs
also heard the sweet sound of freedom in June 1865
two years late, but still a blessing.
On Juneteenth we celebrate
their lives, struggles and that declaration of freedom.
We have gatherings with good food
and reflect on the past,
but we must also look towards our future.
What new goals are we going to set?
What new heights are we going to reach?
Do our lives reflect the future
they saw so long ago?
Are we living with dignity and respect
or was their suffering in vain?
We must answer these questions
with our hearts and minds,
because the best way to honor the past
Is to plan for the future,
on Juneteenth and beyond.   

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Sherry Jones Fri, 21 Jun 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[The End]]>








The end is usually anti-climatic.
No explosions. No fireworks.
No violins. Yet it’s not a whisper
or whimper either. It happens
as you fulfill daily obligations.
Laundry. Grocery shopping. Sometimes
you don’t even know it is the end
just as the river moves into the delta
dissipating itself before reaching the sea.

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Joe Mills Fri, 14 Jun 2013 12:00:00








A haze of blue settles over the ocean,
sand is soft underfoot, caving
in beneath my steps.
High tide only an hour away.
I woke this morning with an ache in my bones –
one I wish I could walk away from.

Fathers are heavy on my heart.
My own – he was who he was:
     rigid and strong
     tender and angry
full of love he struggled to express.
And there are others –
     some mild
     some absent
     some eager to please,
all not quite what we need them to be.
Here comes one now (I imagine)
walking down the beach
tethered to two dogs – a bright puppy
scampering ahead and an aging dachshund
too weary to climb over the pockets of sand.
Who but a father would turn and whistle,
call with encouragement, “Come on, Lizzy!
You can do it.” The song of all fathers.

It is my own I miss –
the broad-shouldered hug, the look
in his eye that told me
everything I needed to know,
until I lost myself in the shadow of his heft.
The waves break again and again,
crying, “I want! I want! I want!”

]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Ann Campanella Fri, 7 Jun 2013 12:00:00
<![CDATA[Mnemosyne’s Acrostic]]>








A future more dreaded than death: Alzheimer’s
            disease and memory

Loss, in limbo between thought and limbic flow,
            in a fading time

Zone with no address or area code, forgetting to check
            notes scrawled on envelopes as reminders to

Halt the mind’s failing GPS and missed appointments, smoke
            detectors set off, and

Early morning ramblings into traffic without knowing where to
            go or how to get home.

It comes on slowly like a time-lapse film of a decaying peony,
            innocuous at first, just

Minor lapses, moments when words evaporate with breath
            and objects are misplaced?

Eyeglasses in the microwave, car keys in the medicine cabinet,
            a cell phone in the

Refrigerator - followed by changes in mood, confusion, difficulty
            reading or following recipes, losing track of changing

Seasons and the passage of time.


Denial: no one wants to accept it -family members say

It’s just old age or absent-mindedness, a series of

Senior moments, nothing to be concerned about, but

Eventually, those moments become days

At sea without a compass or

Sail to get you from A to


]]> Key/Words/Entered/Here Beth Copeland Fri, 31 May 2013 12:00:00