January 10th, 2014

rich quatrone | a poem for amiri


i knew him
and loved him
and was honored to know him
and to call him friend
yet we didn’t hang out
we didn’t socialize
yes there was that time in paterson
when he invited me for a bite to eat
“are you hungry?”
as simple as that
and he and i and ginsberg and
allen’s stepmother edith
and my little son john
and my young wife thuy-duong
we sat at a bar in paterson
amiri and i watched the knicks
while laura boss, always true to
form, got ginsberg to autograph something.
and there were other times
i was with amiri
i even danced with amina once
at his home
but our friendship was not based
on such wonderful and, for me,
unforgettable moments
it was based on something
love actually
love and poetry and a relentless
attempt to speak the truth
to ferret it out
expose it
no matter how unpopular
no matter how readily one is condemned
for telling it
and no matter how awkwardly it is told
and we were joined by our righteous
indignation, you can call it anger,
i will call it fire
i will call it outrage
we were joined by this
although his was greater, brighter
than mine
after all
he was a black man
and had the need, the right, the
reason to be angrier
amiri spoke with absolutely no fear
for the love his people
he never let anyone of us, not me,
not any other white man or woman
not any black man or woman
forget the truth
what had happened
what slavery really was
what the bottoms of those slave ships
really were
he never let us forget for one moment
the endless pain and scourge and torment
and he never kidded us about what black americans
really feel beneath the social programs, the so
called “charity,” the smiling faces, the silences,
the politeness, the rudeness, he never let
any of us forget what was beneath it all
the searing rage and determination
to say fuck you to all of us who sat and sit
silently and give no heed and pay
no attention
while his people are herded into prisons
ignored in the schools
killed on the streets
and then told they have to write
poetry like john ashberry or billy collins
or the flood of ballless mfa “poets” who
rob us of the real poetry
who are tamed and neutered
and pass themselves off as the spokespeople
for our american culture
while young americans, blacks, reds, whites
whom amiri also loved, spoke for, defended,
while we were left out in the cold
these were and are the people of amiri baraka
the audience of amiri baraka
i love this man
and weep this morning not for him
because he has done his work brilliantly
oh, yes, he would say he had so much
more work to do
he told me in an email only months ago
there so much more to be done
in the poems
and in the streets
i weep for myself
and for my loss

rich quatrone
the day after amiri baraka died

January 7th, 2014

jeffrey winke | winter sky

January 6th, 2014

a.d. winans | 4 am insomnia poem


lost in the never
never land of insomnia
a dark forest ravished by storms
where dreams go to perish

my mind hijacks my destiny
speaks in tongue
devours the silence
walks hunchbacked
like a gypsy tailor
pushing a garment cart

a sacrificial virgin
burns in volcano ash
a Tiajuana Jesus
nailed to a plastic cross
winks at the twelve wise men
making a return trip to the manger
after a shopping spree at Walmarts

a fortune teller
trades in her crystal ball
for a tarot card reading
the lone survivor of a shipwreck
floats aimlessly at sea
my love returns from
the bermuda triangle
in the disguise of a mermaid

the pope pleads for humility
god answers with lightning
jesus responds with thunder

a bee colony drips honey between
the legs of a dairy queen
a haunted house coughs up
an angry ghost drunk
on death

dante gives up his seat in hell
to Rosa Parks who recites
the lord’s prayer backwards
to a honky sheriff
in Selma, Alabama

Saint Peter empties purgatory
the FDA declares sleeping masks
a fraud
Van Gogh demands his ear back

a new born baby
is sacrfiiced at the Louve
a french Mistress closes her legs
in protest|

the mirror mocks my image
twenty-plus years of sleeplessness
camp inside my skull
hot as volcano ash

satan recruits me
god makes no counter offer
a whisper of sleep camps
inside my eyeballs
I surrender with a whimper
drown in a series of Hail Mary’s
recited by sexy nuns
in see-through attire

January 5th, 2014

seth howard | the long hallway


Strands of light threading through time
I would sit at times and watch the light filtering in
Through darkness, dreams seemed that way, didn’t they
Floating through fictions of undiscovered truth

Stars that blanket the skies, I slip away
And the hallway is longer than I ever cared to traverse

At times I would sit threading time through light
Drifting darkness seemed a forgotten dream, the truths
I found in fiction became, even more strange

Stars slipping away in strands, a blanket of time
Halfway there was never good enough
When the hallway extends the way it does, stretching out
Dubious in the dark, dank air and fictions floating
Night was longer than I ever cared to know

Disparaged by the shadows, discarded with the clock
Time, I knew no longer, extending into strands threading through
Light, shades of eternity for a time outnumbered
I numbered exceptions of past recalled on one hand

Strands of stars slipping through the ceiling of my mind
Wish that I could go back to the way things were
Things I wish that go back could never stand as truths

And so I find myself here, in a halfway house of fallen stars
The vision that blanketed my sight seemed never to break away

The shadows, the discarded clock, time no longer
Would thread through ceilings dank and dubious
Cards dispersed about the table
Shards of a broken bottle scattered at my feet

January 3rd, 2014

d.a. pratt | yes, the earth moved …

Yes, the earth moved …

The beginning of another new calendar year –
we’re now nicely into the second decade
of the twenty-first century, with the stupidity
about when the century really began now
beginning to recede from my memory …
As midnight struck, wherever you were, whatever
you were doing, did you feel the earth move?

And, actually, it did … in its myriad of ways …
of course, we know it’s silently spinning around
its tilted axis, doing this for all of us once a day,
and it’s continuing without candid commentary
on its annual orbit around the sun, our star …
there are nuanced signs of this but nothing
like the dawning of each morning and the daily
progress toward the darkness of the nights …
many of us depend on the change of seasons
while others of us simply keep track of them
for various reasons that are important to us
but unimportant to everyone else …

What we do not sense is the speed of the planet
hurtling through space, moving with our star
within our galaxy, the Milky Way … nor do we
perceive how fast the galaxy itself is moving
within the universe as a whole … however,
someone in the “world of science” has thought
about this sort of thing – and it’s far more complex
than my own thought experiments could imagine:
our star is moving, within our galaxy, toward a star
we call Lambda Herculis … and we’re going with it …
and our star is also moving upward from the plane
of the Milky Way … and we’re along for the ride …
yes, as the calendar year changed, the earth
moved … seemingly not saying anything about it …

All of this is absolutely amazing, if and when we
allow ourselves to think about this type of thing –
the size and state of the universe and
the journey of our planet is on within it …
And, in contemplating the wonder of it all,
the planet will somehow speak to us and
we will feel that, yes, the earth moved …

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