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Editorial group:

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Joy Leftow, principal editor
Dubblex, assistant editor Brad Eubanks, staff Thomas Hubbard, staff Mike Finley, layout

COVER: The Temple, by Ashley Christudason

In this issue
Book Review: New and Selected Poems by John Yamrus...........................5 Phone interview with John Yamrus by Joy Leftow....................................11 Slow Lurches..............................................................................................15 Study in Synecdoche..................................................................................16 At Your Kitchen Table................................................................................17 To The State Electrical Worker Killed… by Robert Masterson, spotlight poet of the month.....................................18 Hello! Hiroshima? Hello? (Los Alamos calling)..................................................................................19 Book Review of Robert Masterson’s Artificial Rats and Electric Cats......20 The Aqua Sky, by Orna Ben-Shoshan October's spotlight artist.............................................................................23 Mr. Black ................................................................................................24 Plastic Coyote .......................................................................................26 Sally Said ...................................................................................................27 A Precarious Blend ...................................................................................29 Blue Balcony, by Orna Ben-Shoshan.........................................................30 With Mermaid, by Henry Avignon ............................................................31 2

The Excess Road .......................................................................................32 To the Kingdom of Aries, by Ashley Christudason....................................36 midnight music...........................................................................................38 The Prophets Dance by Orna Ben-Shoshan...............................................39 Clapham Junction.......................................................................................40 Useless........................................................................................................42 High Drifting Alarm...................................................................................43 Wake up on your own.................................................................................46 You Should Grow a Moustache..................................................................47 Time is Running Out, by Christopher Woods............................................49 We all die ...................................................................................................51 Broken Concrete, Lilacs, Thunder..............................................................53 Global Warming..........................................................................................54 Street Lamp and Red Leaves by Christopher Woods.................................55 Todd Moore’s latest collection, Reviewed by John Yamrus.......................56 Writers’ Guidelines.....................................................................................58 Old Friends.................................................................................................59 Ex-husband in Tennessee............................................................................61 The Rose, a video.......................................................................................62 another woman’s blog.................................................................................63 Better, by Frances Raven............................................................................64 Diane Bowen's eclectic art..........................................................................66 What the Devil will say in Spring: ............................................................67 Mumbai – Marine Drive.............................................................................68 from saxophone this breath.........................................................................69 When I Say I'm Tired of Writing................................................................71 He would have............................................................................................74 Mr. Antolini, #2..........................................................................................75 Groupthink..................................................................................................77 A Roman Laborer Counsels His Son..........................................................78 Life is too short for small talk....................................................................79 3

"8 x11 Sheet"..............................................................................................81 The Measly Subtraction..............................................................................82 The Traveling Show....................................................................................83 Facebook.....................................................................................................84 Killing the Cat............................................................................................85 The Eleventh House, by Orna Ben-Shoshan..............................................86 Interview with spotlight artist Orna Ben-Shoshan by Thomas Hubbard...................................................................................87 I’ll weep like Karamchedu! Essay by Narender Bedide..........................................................................91 The Golden Navigator, by Orna Ben-Shoshan.........................................101 Dream Casting..........................................................................................102 Solitary Whiskey Tonight.........................................................................103


Book Review: New and Selected Poems by John Yamrus
Reviewed by Joy Leftow John Yamrus’ poetry is very humorous. Not expecting that I was caught by surprise. While reading his book, New And Selected Poems published by Lummox Press, I found myself laughing out loud and laughing so loud that people nearby turned to look at me. Yamrus laughs at himself and us, the main theme being, we’re all in this together. He uses his humor as a tool to wipe away the artificial boundaries between us. He laughs if his muse is around or not around and will sit and write even if his muse is late. The trick of it is ~ if you want to be a writer you have to write. There’s no way around it.
the trick of it is to be there waiting at the typewriter when it happens. and when it does, if you don’t write it down and show it to someone then shame on you.

Yamrus’ poetry is about the little everyday things that take us through a normal day, like where the dog is sitting and what he’s thinking while taking a dump or when he’s annoyed at his hemorrhoids.
This time it’s hemorrhoids, And they’ve been Bleeding since Sunday The doctor Want me to have Surgery, But I’ve been Putting it off needless to say, It’s a real


Pain in the ass.

Poetry about hemorrhoids, hmm… Reminds me of when a neighbor bought my book and later when she met me on the elevator, said, “I expected to read beautiful lines about nature and the sky and instead I read all about your personal problems.” So I guess that makes Yamrus and me poetry brethren. How can any writer not examine himself? In my book that’s one of the prerequisites of being a writer, like it is for a therapist or social worker. If you don’t know your self how can you write about others with knowledge and insight? Aside from Yamrus' annoyance about people who 'wanna be writers' without writing, there is his accompanying frustration with people who compare him to Bukowski. In the poem, Bukowski's property, Yamrus writes:
this poem isn't mine... nothing I do or think or write is mine it's all filtered down through you Mr. Bukowski... and I wish you'd come here and take it back.

Yamrus knows he's not Bukowski and doesn't want to be, or try to be. He can't help being compared because he's taken a style and made it his own. There are more poems too that deal with this poignant issue. In the poem, “Did I ever tell you” ...
about the time Linda said i was good but that i'd never be Bukowski? ...


She said that i was good, but i would never be great ... because I wasn't mad Bukowski (she said) was mad... and he was great. i wrote back saying that she was right... Bukowski IS mad and Bukowski IS great, but if one of the qualifications for being mad and being great was having to put up with the likes of her, then i'd be more than happy to settle for what i am and what i'm going to be. that was 30 years ago, and do you know what? i'm still not mad and i'm still not great... but, every now and then, when the moon's just right i'm not half bad.

Now that's funny and reaches out to everyone. We all want to be accepted for who we are without being judged. In the poem “now that Bukowski’s dead,” Yamrus takes this further to sum up the aftermath for where we’re all headed, our final destination as the universe continues through its revolutions.
now, they’ll pick his bones like they did with all the others


and look for reasons where there were none… and explanations where there are none… where (more often than not) there’s just some slob who lived his life and wrote and loved and slept and ate and died there’s no mystery at all.. really… just ask Bukowski.

On a recent Youtube video, Yamrus reads a recent poem about a person who writes to him and asks him to write without discussing poetry or poets. This poem is also in the book, “Dear John: In Yamrus’ poem he responds to his questioner:
i’m afraid i AM a writer, and the only subject matter I have is me. … you can also feel confident of finding poems that talk about picking my nose, going to the fridge for a beer and watching my dog take a dump


Well yes, what else does a writer have to contend with that has meaning other than our-selves, our reflections on our interactions and the stories in our heads. Yamrus watches himself watching the world and reports his view, a view made seeable and more agreeable by the threads of humor running through. By the same token, many academics may not like Yamrus’ style poetry because his deviation from what we’ve been taught “real poetry” is and I really relate to that. When I decided to take some non-matriculated poetry classes in the graduate department at CCNY, the professor in charge (now deceased and even then a certifiable alcoholic) never responded to my application. I was planning a sabbatical and needed to know so I left several messages. Finally after several weeks I got him on the phone. “I have my concerns,” he said authoritatively but never clarified what they were. What he did say was that I couldn’t take classes. Usually non-matriculated students are accepted. I got the name of the Creative Writing Chairman and spoke to him. He asked me to send a folder containing fiction, poetry, academic writings, articles, literature reviews, brochures, and more. I did. The folder had about a hundred pages all together. Three more of these overnight folders were all “lost” and I hand delivered one with no response. Finally I made an entirely new application for matriculation and sent ten pages of a story under my married name, Lambert and was accepted within a week. Prejudice may have been at work on several levels since my last name is clearly Jewish and when I used an Anglo name with the same writing sample I was accepted quickly. Otherwise someone should’ve recognized the story. I got my 2nd masters degree there only because my options were limited in what I could pay and CCNY is still the cheapest deal in town. I admit I left out the poetry and I also admit some people hate my poetry, and in that way my work is similar to John Yamrus’. I guess that’s why Yamrus’ poem stories about what people say about his poetry really hit home after my experiences. Yamrus also confronts his inner conflicts with humor. In dear anita;
The most recent poem you sent Is one of the best things you’ve ever written it’s got heart and soul, intelligence, warmth and wit


it’s got everything my poetry seems to lack please don’t write to me again … you’ve done it so much better than me … I don’t need The competition If you write to me again i’ll refuse to open your letter … From here on in i’m only going to read Writers who have been dead 40 years or more at least with them i’ll have a fighting chance.

The poems may appear very simple but that’s the trick. Many may say, “Oh I can write like that,” but they don’t. Someone who is an expert at doing something always makes it look easy to do but that doesn’t mean it is easy. His early influences are Bukowski, who wrote narrative poetry also and Gerald Locklin who also used self-effacement effectively. Yamrus may have been influenced but he isn’t trying to be anyone else in his poetry. He takes risks, exposing himself and the reader and that’s what it’s all about. NEW AND SELECTED POEMS is John Yamrus' 18th book. He has now published nearly 1,100 poems in magazines around the world and selections of his poems have been translated into several languages including Spanish, Swedish, Italian, French, Japanese and most recently Romanian. His newest book is available on
Contact Yamrus c/o his publisher, Lummox Press...e-mailing them at:


Phone interview with John Yamrus by Joy Leftow
After reading Yamrus latest poetry book New and Selected Poems, I asked to interview him and he agreed. I wanted to interview him to understand how he came to write poetry that makes me laugh out loud, as does much of his work. CSR: How long have you been writing? JY: This is actually my 40th year doing this. It’s hard to imagine that I’m now into my 18th published book, with nearly 1,100 poems published in magazines. CSR: How old were you when you were first published? JY: I was 19 when my first chapbook came out. Young and stupid. Now, I guess I’m just stupid. CSR: Oh really? Are there any left?... JY: (jumping in fast) Don’t even think about it! The copies I have left are boxed up somewhere and they’re gonna stay there. I can’t say that I’m ashamed of my early work. I mean, it must have been considered good enough for someone to want to publish it, but I’m in such a different place these days. A completely different writer from what I was back then. I’m ashamed of my early writing. It was so pretentious. I’d guess it wasn’t until I was in my late 40s that I actually started to hit my stride and know what I was doing with the poems. I guess it’s true, what they say…you know…walking on water wasn’t built in a day. CSR: How did you come to use humor as a device in your poetry? JY: It didn’t start out like that. At first I was writing the same straight-faced somber quiet poetry that most poets write. I wasn’t happy with it and felt unsatisfied with my work, like something was missing. The humor part of it comes naturally to me, and it’s an honest open way for me to communicate. It’s also more interesting. I mean, god, there’s just way too many so-called writers out there who take themselves and their poems way too seriously. CSR: What’s the one thing you want people to know about your book? JY: My poetry is real. There’s no unicorns in it. No dappled daisies…nothing but blood and guts and bone. And with the humor added to it, I can make the same points as I could in the serious stuff, but it was different. Easier to take. I think the real breakthrough for me was when I figured out how to cross that gap that exists between the writer and the reader…once I figured out how to make THEM feel they were part of the poem, it was pretty easy after that. CSR: Do you have a regimen you follow? JY: I do. It’s not brain surgery. People ask me all the time how do you get into this…publishing poetry…being in the magazines. I tell them it’s not a big deal 11

and it’s not a mystery. The only secret to the whole thing is you’ve got to do it every day. Do SOMETHING. Write a poem. Write a letter. Submit something somewhere. Just DO something. That’s the whole secret to the thing. There! You now owe me a million dollars. CSR: I say the same thing on my blog –I love to write when the muse strikes and if she doesn't strike, I write anyway and then, invariably, my muse joins me. JY: The important thing is writing. A writer writes. But, I’m not a writer. And I’m certainly not a poet. I think if I were to put a label on myself I’d have to call myself a song and dance man. Or a tight-rope walker. CSR: Is your writing political? JY: It depends on what you mean by political. CSR: For me political means social commentary. JY: That’s all my poetry is, is social commentary, beginning with myself as a subject. CSR: Yes like you say in your poem – the only subject matter you have is you, because everything you see is filtered through who you are. JY: Absolutely, and this is also where I made the breakthrough – once I figured out that I’m the only subject I have…and once I figured out a way to make that subject relatable, then I was home free. And hell, if I could make someone laugh along the way? It doesn’t get any better than that. CSR: Would you choose one poem from your book NEW AND SELECTED POEMS and riff about it? JR: Normally I hate doing this and hate especially going into an explanation and introduction that will be longer than the poem. I've always felt that if you've got to explain it, or set it up, then the poem's a failure. But in this case, since I'm having such a good time with this interview, I'll make an exception and make my explanation longer than the poem itself. Here's the poem:
after work i come home, walk into the kitchen and throw my wallet on the counter.


then my pens, my cards and finally my keys, which slide along the counter, spin, do a little dance and finally come to a stop. some day so will i.

The poem (for me) kinda illustrates what I was talking about...making a connection with the reader. Crossing over to their side of the street. This is an example of one of those poems that clicked for me. I started out, like everyone else, trying to write the great poem. The one, memorable poem. And it took me years and years to learn that the great, big, memorable poem doesn't exist anymore. Once I figured that out, that's when I switched gears and decided that I was going to take my entire body of work and transform it into that great, big, memorable poem. Kinda like how one drop of water doesn't really mean much, but an ocean's a powerful thing. Well, this poem just happened just the way it was written, but the kicker...the part that takes it (in my mind, at least) from prose to poetry, is the illumination at the end, where the speaker has that aha! moment where he puts it all together. Out of a pretty mundane moment, a bit of a universal truth emerges, something that we all sooner or later figure out. That's when I feel I'm doing my job with my poems...when I'm keeping it small. Keeping it real. You'll never find any dappled daisies or unicorns or babbling brooks in my poems. You'll find everyday events that we can all relate to. Crossing the street onto the reader's side. It was such a simple concept...but it took me 20 years to figure it out. CSR: Wow – I’m so impressed but what I’m most impressed with and this is what I want CSR readers to know – what I’m most impressed with -is how much time I spent laughing out loud when I read the book. I laughed reading on the train, in doctor’s offices and at home. Laughing is good for the soul and healing. This book did it for me. Thanks much John. I had a great time doing this interview. Any other words for CSR? JY: Only a thanks to CSR for making it enjoyable, no pun intended. Oh, and I 13

think we forgot to mention the name of my new book. It’s NEW AND SELECTED POEMS. It’s available on Amazon. Christmas is coming. I’m kinda prejudiced, but I really do think it’d make a great gift for any of the readers in your life. There! That’s my shameless plug and I’m sticking to it! I’ve always made it a point to push for sales on my books. I’ve always felt that I owed it to those publishers who are crazy enough to shell out their hard-earned money to put my stupid poems in print. So, we’re back to stupid again. I guess that’s where I started and it’s as good a place as any to end.


Slow Lurches
She watched him grow brutish when his outside affairs ended. No other women. No other anger. There hadn't been held hands in years, and when she curtailed these ugly sparks of others, there never would be. Somehow, she has outlasted his eyes and thoughts. In the mood, his jaw dangles loose, hyena for a nip, and he grunts much, radish-nosed from drink. The two of them are again monogamous and silver, girding their vows like new discovered organs— In the mood, he is soon spanking at her bullish rump, chuckling for groped breasts, and shortly after, as if a scab unsheeted by the thumbnail, there is but a tender patch where once he knew the rough. They have intermingled their adoration with resentment, the only power either knows will keep the other. Somehow, each year outlives the previous. There is hard work in this, and no sparkle or love tinsel; these are not pleased people, but calm.

~ Ray Succre

Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and son. He has been published in Aesthetica, BlazeVOX, and Pank, as well as in numerous others across as many countries. His novels Tatterdemalion (2008) and Amphisbaena (2009), both through Cauliay, are widely available in print. A third novel, A Fine Young Day, is forthcoming in Summer 2010. He tries hard.


Study in Synecdoche
Outside, a tee-shirt leans beneath a hood of a Mustang, an old gingham dress bends patiently to pick up the rolled newspaper. Nearby a lawnmower cuts its straight rows of grass. Loose sounding wheels skid to a stop on the street. Boots disappear around the sides of houses, return with metal cans. Slowly mailboxes fill with letters to be unfilled in the night. Inside, slippers pad from stove to counter to table. Orange juice flows from the carton spout. The chicken breast defrosts near the toaster. Butter melts, water boils. Water runs in the bathroom—shrill and busily. A hand opens a bedroom door. For a moment the hallway is reminded of music. Later, the music will disappear like a good pair of socks.

~ David Breitkopf


At Your Kitchen Table
Last night you said friendship has its own meaning, its own rhythm. You reached across the kitchen table, with all its piles of papers and books, and stroked my hair to remind me of our ages and you laughed as if to say (even as we averted our eyes) our love was something that occurred years ago and that now we were simply embellishing the facts.

~ David Breitkopf

David Breitkopf has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers for many years, most recently with the American Banker. He also teaches tennis, and in the 1990s performed professionally as a standup comic—filling out his eclectic background. His literary works have been published in Poetry Miscellany, Sequoya Review, Manhattan Literary Review, and the anthology “Tokens: Contemporary Poetry for the Subway.”


To The State Electrical Worker Killed …
by Robert Masterson, spotlight poet of the month
To the state electrical worker killed while working on a giant steel pylon supporting the massive power lines spanning the Wei He River north of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, the People’s Republic of China, in the fall of 1985. I still now as I did then wonder what it must have looked like to you incandescent, eyeballs ribboned with blue fire and below you spreading all horizon, the city slowly pulsed, hot and dusty for this late in the year, everyone says so. Who knows, who will ever know what caused your fatal spark, the brilliant arc that clenched you tight, convulsed in one long spasm when everything inside you jammed up with electricity rampant and when you began to smolder, I wondered if you even noticed you were on fire. The river bridge was jammed both ways, typical post-revolutionary rush hour and a quarter of a million people stopped their bicycles and put one leg on the pavement so they could safely stare up goggle-eyed and open-mouthed at something different, at a man two hundred feet in the air who twitched and blackened and was never coming down. The wrongness of this all is huge, and still I consider what it must seem To you there among the wires thrumming harsh, the river silver and thin along the wide sandy bottom, just diesel smoke from idle engines like mist in a scroll painting One thousand years old, this same river and this same city, now hanging in a temple in the mountains far to the west.

~ Robert Masterson 18

Originally published by Sotto Voce (2009).

Hello! Hiroshima? Hello? (Los Alamos calling)
This city of blisters is so much like my home town except: it always rains; the girls on the street will cry into the arms of the boys who look in different directions; everyone speaks a different language even when the meaning means the same things because it's their way of listening for something different; the fish in the restaurants is always very fresh if not actually alive; these trees are palm trees, though still ever green, and so is the moss smearing itself across all the concrete walls. Except for all these few things, it's exactly the same as my home town (also, the keloid scars on the back of the neck of the man on the stret car that goes by the river that goes past the house where I live when I live there). It's a double sunrise day in my hometown and the mist or the fog or the smoke or whatever it is comes out of the mountains and threads itself through the ghosts of trees on its way to lower ground.

~ Robert Masterson
Robert Masterson is a writer/teacher living in Westchester County, New York. He is author of Artificial Rats & Electric Cats (Camber Press, NY, 2008) and Trial by Water (Dog Running Wild Press, NM, 1982). Masterson works as a professor/instructor of English, writing, and film for such institutions as The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and The Harwood Institute, also in Albuquerque. Masterson spent most of his childhood and graduated from high school in Los Alamos. Contact him at:


Book Review of Robert Masterson’s Artificial Rats and
Electric Cats
Review by David Breitkopf Like many Westerners, China has been and remains an inscrutable country to me. From its language, culture and long history, there’s too much of everything. To get your mind around it is like trying to photograph the entire Great Wall with one roll of film. Robert Masterson’s memoir “Artificial Rats and Electric Cats” (Camber Press, Inc., 2008), provides a roll of unusual snap shots from his time as a student there when the communist country was in its early stages of economic liberalization, and just prior to The Tiananmen Square Massacre, which looms at the book’s margins. Despite its subtitle, Communications from Transitional China, 1985-1986, the stories/essays and poems in the book dwell on the miscommunications between Westerners and Chinese, the lacunae that prevent any true communion between East and West. Masterson and his friends know just enough Chinese to get by and describe if not quite fathom some of the country’s enigmatic customs. The struggle and yearning of Chinese and Westerners to cross these impasses provide humor and poignancy. At a nightclub where the band might follow “The Blue Danube Waltz” with “a surreal version of Madonna's forbidden "Like a Virgin,” a number of street toughs attempt to flirt in English with some Western girls. One of them begins, "Hello…I am a boy." "Hello," I answer, verbally interposing myself between the girls and our new friend. "I am a boy, too." "We are boys." "We sure are. That's true. We are boys." There we pause to take drags from cigarettes and to drink from green bottles. "Hmm...I am…a table." "Yes. Table. Absolutely. You are a table." Officially, China considered western culture degenerate, and citizens could be severely punished, even put to death for conduct or activities that were deemed 20

Western such as “convulsive dancing.” Yet the Chinese we meet in these pages are willing to take risks to experience Western culture: a Chinese woman prisoner catches the narrator’s eye for a moment as she is led away in a truck to her execution. The placard around her neck states that her crimes were “excessive fascination with foreign videos, and prostitution.” She appears to be in a drugged stupor, but when she sees the narrator, she registers surprise. “It was if somewhere still inside her some part of herself was still able to exclaim, "Oh, look! A foreigner.” Westerners, though, don’t appear to register the same surprise or yearning in these chance encounters. The narrator “felt an urge to wave,” to the condemned woman “to move my arm and my hand together in a synchronized and friendly gesture,” but the urge was neither organic nor spontaneous, but mechanical and too late. In another story two foreigners encounter a woman selling ice cream. They opt for “Face ice cream,” which most closely approximated their Western tastes. The vendor is thrilled to have a chance to speak to them. “I speak English,” she declares. But the two women foreigners dismiss the vendor’s yearning, “Terrific…May we have the ice cream?” Even in instances where Westerners initiate the rapprochement, the gap yawns. The narrator and his friend attempt to advise a Chinese colleague who is having difficulty impregnating his wife. The 22-hour trip back and forth from job to home over the weekends leaves him exhausted. The foreigners suggest sleeping on the train and having sex with his wife during the day. The man laughs uproariously over such ludicrous ideas. The book’s title comes from one of the longer pieces, which deals with a vermin quota rule that required students to kill 6 rats per week, and produce 6 rat-tails as proof. In a solution worthy of Philip K. Dick, students invent the dian mao, or electric cat, a crude trap made of exposed wire. When a rat steps on the dian mao, it explodes. But “since only the tail was required to pass inspection, the subsequent mess was considered worth the extra work on clean-up days.” Masterson’s writing can be concise, hard-edged, and funny. It also can veer to a more florid, Beat style. It didn’t surprise me to find in his bio that he had an MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. The book includes near the end a short news article written by a reporter for the Miami Herald describing Masterson’s run-in with a number of Chinese who severely beat him over a dispute following a bicycle accident. Masterson doesn’t 21

write directly about the incident, nor explain why he doesn’t. He notes in a postscript how much China has changed in the 20 years since he was there, how it has become a more industrial and modern nation. Masterson daydreams about leading a field trip of students back to the country to point out some of his memorable snap shots that include things he couldn’t squeeze into the main book such as “a naked Chinese boy asleep” on the back of a water buffalo standing in paddy of rice shoots. Masterson admits the meaning of his China experiences continues to elude him. I suspect a new field trip would provide new snap shots and equally new miscommunications.

David Breitkopf has been a reporter and editor of daily newspapers for many years. His literary works have been published in Poetry Miscellany, Sequoya Review, Manhattan Literary Review, the anthology “Tokens: Contemporary Poetry for the Subway,” and most recently in the online magazine, “The Cynic.”


The Aqua Sky, by Orna Ben-Shoshan October's spotlight artist


Mr. Black
I often think of two driveways That once wrapped around a small house A garage on the right side An old rusted boat of a Buick Century parked just before it 1975 most likely, ranch green And I think how at one point they broke it at the bend Dug a hole, and filled it with a swimming pole Reduced the man, old Mr. Black had become Skin stretched tight over bones, breathing heavy, mechanical assisted by tubes and tanks From whole house, to a room with medical equipment, bed, T.V. I never saw old mister black drive that boat But I wonder now if he had driven that boat Straight through the first and second garage doors Run over the children’s and grandchildren’s bikes The woodworking set he could not use any more because of his trembling hands Ignoring the fact that at the curve of his driveway A hole was dug, and a pool was placed I can see old mister black drive that boat How beautiful the scraping and crunching metallic noises The splash of three elephants Crossing the blue chlorine Nile Victorious re-emerging of the wet rusted steel Solve the curiosity of young men and cars crashing The part of the movie where I would shake my head in approval And whisper a cheer, “Yesssss” to the heroic display Fence would bow down before the honorable weight of steel walled radial tires Foreign car would be plowed onto the front lawn Old Mr. Black would peel out in that old Buick Century Like a bat of hell The breathing tubes would fall to the sides and snap from the pressure A distinctive laugh would be heard echoing off of the quiet rancher homes Drive into the sunset, or as long as he could without help 24

Growing old can be painful Not as painful as your own flesh and blood Caretakers, slave drivers, architects, interior designers Very careful they are to weed out the junk Not the boxes of their old moldy clothes or baby toys Pulled out of paid storage More like the vintage subscriptions to Saucy Movie Tales and classic rusty cars. Just drive Mr. Black Don’t look back.

~ Mathew Vincent


Plastic Coyote
Scary son of a bitch Back arched ready to pounce Teeth blinding like headlights at night Ears back preparing for flight But he’s not advancing any further Legs cut at the calves Pole shoved into abdomen Not fooling anyone At least not for more than a second The mean geese still keep their distance in respect Funny they find the former fierce predator Gossip among themselves Never out loud or to his face Wind kicks up and leaves dance in circles Starts to rock like a rocking-horse on springs Scary as he’ll ever be Geese cautiously watch the stationary beast Whisper behind his back Admire from a nearer distance.

~ Matthew Vincent

Matthew Vincent was born and currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He has been actively writing poetry and music for over ten years.


Sally Said
Sally said that my knee bones stick out too far so that means I’m chicken footed. She also said my family is dirt poor cause we got plastic wrap in the windows instead of glass but momma said that plastic wrap costs more than glass so we actually got more money and we change the plastic a lot and people with glass only change it when it is broke. Sally said we’re friends but only sometimes when nobody’s watching cause her mother sez that my momma’s trash cause she’s got loads of kids but no husband and no money. And Sally’s mother said I wouldn’t be no better ‘cause the apple don’t fall too far from the tree and Sally don’t need no friends from that side of the track. Sally said she likes me anyway but she hates my sister ‘cause my sister picks her nose and doesn’t wipe it with a tissue when she sneezes. She also said my sister’s always got a scab on her knee and it’s always bleedy because she picks that too and eats it but I never noticed. Sally always asks me about my dad but I don’t know. When I ask momma she sez he died in a war in England before I was born but Sally said that’s not true ‘cause her mother said there ain’t been no wars in England and my brother and sister are younger than me. My momma said Sally’s mother don’t know what she’s talking about ‘cause she ain’t worked a day in her life. Momma told me I don’t need a friend like Sally and I should stick with my brothers and sisters ‘cause they’re the only ones I can count on in the end and she heard Sally’s mother was making a stink at the school ‘cause people like us was moving into the neighborhood. I told Momma ‘bout Maria’s nose always running and her knee always bleeding but she said she never noticed it neither. I like Sally even though momma told me not to ‘cause she’s the only one at school who lets me borrow her pencil and she sez that even though I’m chickenfooted I got nice hair ‘cause it’s blond. She said if I wash it more often it might be blonder but momma said that’s a load of crap and Sally’s just jealous ‘cause she’s got mousy brown hair and her eyes are too close together. Momma said that Sally’s mother is prejudiced against us cause our clothes are old and one day Sally’d be just like her and I don’t need no friends if they’re gonna have their noses up in the air. Sally said she saw Maria kissing some fat boy behind the school and that Maria’s 27

probably pregnant because of it but she said her mother said my momma wouldn’t even notice ‘cause she’s already got so many kids and they’d all probably become tramps like her. Sally’s mother said my momma’s ignorant ‘cause she’s got holes in her shoes and does other people’s laundry but don’t do her own. One day I told Sally we probably shouldn’t be friends no more since her mother don’t like my momma and my momma don’t like her mother but Sally said it was okay because she didn’t mind. Sally said she felt sorry for me because her mother told her people like me never get anywhere ‘cause even if I’m smart it costs money to get an education and money is something that people like me just don’t got. Sally said maybe if I washed my hair her brother would marry me but her mother said she didn’t raise her son to marry trash and besides people like me ain’t for marrying. Sally said she still thinks I got a chance but Maria don’t ‘cause of her knee and her nose and ‘cause of the fat boy and all. Momma said it’s okay ‘cause you can’t depend on nobody anyway and Maria can’t get pregnant from kissing.

~ Regina Walker

Regina Walker is a writer and psychotherapist in NYC. She can be reached at


A Precarious Blend
As my father sits smoking his pipeI watch the tendrils curl upward. I smell the rich tobacco That reminds me of North CarolinaMomma’s home state. He stares into spaceAnd takes a long drawA question markFloats in my direction Like an apparition. What will we do nowWho will take care of usNow that Momma is gone? Who is this manThat I call Daddy? The vapor dissipatesI stare into space, tooI envision a foggy futureWhile he remembersA luminous past. We both have lost somethingBut will we find each other? Another question markGoes up in smoke.

~ Beatrice M. Hogg

Beatrice M. Hogg grew up in western Pennsylvania. Her illiterate coal miner father would have considered her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles to be a major waste of time and money.


Blue Balcony by Orna Ben-Shoshan ,


With Mermaid, by Henry Avignon

Henry Avignon is a photographer and writer in Rochester, New York. In March Howling Dog Press will release his first dual collection of poetry and photography, Dirty Poem,. Selections of Henry's poetry can be found in the April issue of Ygdrasil.


The Excess Road
There's just one task left to complete. Sneaking through the scattered dawn, up through the crisscrossing cement walkways of the hilltop campus, I make my way to Donner Hall. Bright fragrances from the nearby apple orchard billow over me as I reach my destination. The brick dormitory glows orange, a smoldering fuse in the half-light. I hadn't expected anyone to be here, but the hope that Justin was wrong and that I could grab one last glance at her secretly nestled in the recesses of my mind and pushed me here at this ungodly hour. My footsteps echo. The building no longer has a pulse. All the underclassmen have fled home. The bare metal skeletons of single beds lean against watery gray ash walls. Lined up near the frames are the wooden bones left over from broken bunk beds. Wood and metal lined alongside the black trash garbage bags. Shortly even these remnants will be gone. Elyssa’s door is open like so many times before but she is not there to wave me in with a delicate hand or wink with a glint in her eyes. I gaze in to see nothing but memories. Only ghosts remain. An apparition of her reclining on a figment of a bed resolves in empty space. I take a deep breath as I brace against the doorframe to stop from buckling over. As soon as her face seems real, the vision disappears as if made of dust rolling away in a gust of Virginia air. No specters of the past linger in the silence. Her flesh escaped me, her love escaped me, and she left this place like everyone else dear to me. Only the faculty are left on campus preparing for graduation and finishing their paperwork. Also, I surmise, trying to cover up the details of the event that smeared the school’s reputation this year. They’re not real . They exist in another dimension, a higher dimension, right beside the netherworld I occupy. The only thing I want now is to leave and not run into anyone. I retrace my steps, like I'd done so many times before, the concrete sidewalks bordered by Kentucky Bluegrass buzz and the excitement of hungry black gnats. The day break floats in a steam bath of morning air. There is no depth to the sky as the sun casts a wide net creeping up in the east. The Appalachian piedmonts are no longer a barrier to the morning as dense waves of 32

sunlight begin to burn away the haze. The unrelenting waves are not easy to wade through still being half-drunk, half-asleep and out of breath from scorching my lungs with two packs of cigarettes a day. As I shuffle along, visions of Elyssa in an alabaster sundress twirl in front of me. The daydream knits a veil over my focus and in what seems like seconds I have crossed the entire campus. I ache. My broken tooth throbs. The metal fire proof side door to my dorm is unlocked. Everything is unlocked but there is nothing to steal anyway and for the first time in weeks I have my card key on me but it doesn’t matter. I yank on the handle and cool air floods me as I enter. The metal fire door slams shut and seals as an echo bounces up the stairwell and stays around for a few unnatural seconds longer than it should. Things are louder when there is nothing around. My calves quake as I strain to push my way up. The grated steel tips of the stairs clack like tap shoes as I step on them. A deep sigh descends down upon me from the second story landing. My landing. I know that sigh. It’s Jack. My ever diligent RA. The last person I want to see. Jack’s narrow face, fixed bird eyes as serious as a fire and brimstone preacher’s, and erect posture remind me of my father when I was a little boy and he'd kneel down, grab my shoulders, squeeze a little too hard and say, “You must clean the mess you make.” My father didn't practice as he preached. He left lots of big messes but Jack cleaned up messes. It was his specialty. Hobbling up the last few flights, I lift my head up to stare him down. Dressed in his Sunday best, he glares at me, through me, with his arms across his sunken chest. He sighs again. I was numb but now I’m annoyed. Pity pisses me off and I feel my ears getting hot. “Joaquin, remember what I told you. Help is available. You’re a good guy who got caught up in things out of your control. We all did,” Jack says. “Control is an illusion. We never had control. You must've missed that philosophy class Jack,” With my last burst of energy, I bound up the last two stairs. “I don’t believe that. You don’t believe that. We have control over our choices,” “Also illusion.” 33

“No, God gave man freewill, the ability to choose,” Jack said. “I'm not going to get into the freewill thing now. It's not the time. Why are you even up?” I ask. “I always get up at this time. If you ever happened to rise at a reasonable hour you might know … I’m sorry. You’re right. This isn't the time or place.” he said slightly bowing his head. “How very adult of you,” I nodded. “I just wanted to tell you again you're a good person with tons a' talent. I heard you and George play. You got a lot going. Don’t let it slip away,” he said rushing forth to hug me. He smells like mint toothpaste and I probably smell like a seedy bar to him. “Thank you Jack. Goodbye.” The tight embrace ended with him stepping back, his eyes welling up. “Good bye Joaquin. Remember God has not abandoned you. I'll see you next year. I hope.” “Only a matter of time Jack.” With that encounter, a memorial memory is invoked setting fire to my synapses. This distraction is going to make getting ready harder. I hope it doesn’t spur an attack. Sliding by, hands in my pockets, I stumble to my room that only a few days ago was just a laundry hamper but now is clean as the day I first stepped through the door. It greets me with cool fluid darkness. Along the bare walls, my luggage consisting of black and green garbage bags, moving boxes, and two suitcases are packed and stacked. I plummet down onto my mattress dented with soft divots as the coils cringe and rebound with metal squeaks and creaks. My shoes won’t slide off and I reach for the sheet that is normally at my feet but it’s on the dirty floor. I’m too tired to pick it up and flash to sleep. A barrage of slamming car doors wake me up. After counting ten door slam I stop. My jeans are twisted around my waist cutting off the circulation to my groin as my beer stained t-shirt wrapped the other way chokes me. Both dingy garments spin back into place as I roll out of the central pit of my bed to go investigate. 34

Through the bug splatter on the outside of this second story hallway window, I watch a mob of reporters assembling below. The parking lot of this brick dormitory is full of strange news crews running around battling for space under the morning sun. I wonder why they're here now? It’s been a while since the shootings.

~ Joshua Lee Andrew
Joshua Lee Andrew Jones resides in coastal Connecticut near New York and works as a freelance creative consultant. Currently he is working on a novel, a poetry collection and a screenplay. Contact him at editors note: The above excerpt is from a novel in the works. The Excess Road is a chronicle of Joaquin Chandler’s descent into the drug subculture of a small Virginia party college.


To the Kingdom of Aries, by Ashley Christudason


Front page art and preceding page by Ashley Christudason. Christudason is a visionary collage mixed media artist. He imagines a theme and searches out images associated with them. He uses a collation process of many images – all of which speak to him; he chooses a base picture upon which he layers what he has collated. An art piece may be layered 100-150 times. Pieces with more layers appear vastly different from the images initially collated, for example we won’t discern there is a picture of the 'Earth' used in it. In more intricate pieces, the layers are fused into ONE. AC’s fans claim he’s an artist who channels higher sources, such as Hindu deities, Extraterrestrials and a strange figure resembling Jesus Christ – images he never used to create or layer the piece with!


midnight music
Pound the piano for me boys Make the black & whites fly I’m listenin’ to the past and Damn them dead guys play I Can almost hear the sweat Bouncin’ off the ivory slick Fingers & gently some too 'Cause Monk gone inside him Self when the needle hits the Groove & Fats & them others Runnin' hot in a room runnin' Cool with drink & blue smoke Laden mood pure sound fast Flowin' & dance the women Lost in trance boys when all The dead men swing & Jelly Roll decodes the keys when All the dead men wail

~ Kevin Eberhardt

Kevin Eberhardt has worked at a restaurant, shipyard, golf course, group home for delinquent boys, a runaway shelter (boys & girls), been a civil servant / never been to college / is married w/two kids / plays mediocre drums & harmonica / reads profusely / loves music / and is an ex-recreational drunk / semi-hermitical / He was once born again but it didn't take / plus he has a dog named Bob and plans to retire in 2 years.


The Prophets Dance by Orna Ben-Shoshan


Clapham Junction
As I sat on the train, I looked at the shiny suitcase that was perched on the overhead rack. I was almost sure that it would fall and land on the heads of the women beneath it. Then a young woman came up to me and asked, if she may and I said that she perfectly could. As she sat next to me, I considered asking her, What it was like to be a beautiful young lady. You see, I will never know but instead I just got my notebook out and started to write about it instead. Later on, we reached Clapham junction and I started to shuffle about in my seat. She asked me if I wanted to get off. I said no and asked her if she wanted to get off.


I am sure that her eyes lit up as I looked away and that was the end of another conversation.

~ Marc Carver

Marc Carver was born in England some forty odd years ago. In the last year he has produced some two or three hundred poems. He has had thirty to forty poems of these published in America. Some have been included in his first collection of poetry called PURE which can be purchased at Amazon. He is currently working on a second collection. When he is not writing he is performing his work, mainly in London. Please go and see him and say hi.


Yesterday, a man told me that he hopes to have maybe another twenty years of usefulness doing his job. I stared into his eyes to make sure that he was being sincere And knew that he believed in the words that came from his mouth. I have never had any desire to be a useful man. But I know people are rated this way. The useful ladder. I have sometimes put one foot on the rung but it does not stay there very long. I quickly take it off. Later the man told me that we had made a token gesture to fix the problem. I told him, That there was nothing wrong with tokenism I had lived my whole life by it. But although he had just met me he knew that already.

~ Marc Carver


High Drifting Alarm
The train sways unsteadily, and rolls over yet another high-stilted trestle. Couplings clang, whistles blow as my nervous stomach does a swan dive splashing into a silver string of boiling water a mile or so below. Out my iron-windowed compartment Northern landscape. Trees & water. Water everywhere. Not like the desert of L.A. at all. Not like the harbor freeway. Not full of frightened eyes rushing from work. No, just trees. So many trees I feel dwarfed, drowning in these encroaching trees. Above the trees, hunched clouds full of rain scrape their sexual bellies across the green canopy of treetops. Then a patch of sunlight. a sudden furrowed field --- a man in coveralls, a jaunty straw hat & a bright orange bandanna tied round his neck, as he sits on a yellow tractor. Wiping his brow, he stops to watch the train. We see each other. He tips his hat, By reflex, I open my hand in salute. We connect. We watch each other out of sight until he's just a distant color


pressed into the impression of a landscape. And in this moment, I wish to be him. To fade away, fade faraway atop his tractor, plowing this field. I need to take up his life. Snake-like I want to shuffle off my dead skin, leave my dry life, and discard my city dirt. I could see in his eyes or maybe I imagined it---he wished he was the haunted one---sitting on the train --- unshaved & speeding South. Watching his dot of color fade & disappear, I think of the many people staring right now at someone else, wishing it were possible to become them. Needing --needing to leave everything--all of it behind. To just check out. To go forever missing --to give up on the harshness give up on the pain give up on the incertitude of breath give up on the fear of eternal night give up on a world grinding off its own flesh. yes and again yes. . . To live a new life as someone else,


someone without these damn darkling thoughts. Unexpectedly, the train whistle shrills ---- calling me back to myself from far across Seattle Sound and my train rushes forward===windows on fire with the reflected sun.

~ Steve De France
Steve De France MFA hitch-hiked across America, rode rails on freight trains, worked as a laborer with pick up gangs in Arizona, dug swimming pools in Texas, did 33 days in the Pecos city jail as a vagarant, fought bulls in Mexico, and dove for salvage off a small island on the coast of Mazatlan. De France has won writing awards in England and the United States.


Wake up on your own
Little unknown birds make curves on the sky canvas. A squirrel desirous of a longer look, skips heartbeats in a play of proximity. Morning seeps into my heart with a smile, as you drool in my bed with your tiptoe-friendly sleep. I gaze beyond the balcony, and then look at you, 'Simplicities' of the world pour inside me. I blink slower, I walk softer, I smile brighter. My union with this morning will cease in some time-a star will soon achieve prominence. Wake up and join me in this revelry Wake up by your own As my love can't help but look in silence at the oblivion of your smiling sleep.

~ Tanuj Solanki

Tanuj Solanki is a poet from India. He is 23. He writes when he has nothing on his mind and also when he wants to say what is on his mind.


You Should Grow a Moustache
You should grow a moustache to twitch and stroke when dark ale bottoms out in your pint glass. You should comb your hair to conform to the sine wave of your intellect. Casual talk doesn’t amuse. When I confront you over a book about which we do or don’t agree I weigh every word. Your eyewear frowns so narrowly I wonder you can see through it. Your green checked shirt, sleeves too long, drapes you like a tent collapsed on a boy scout. Can we befriend the more relaxed parts of our minds, or must we remain as brittle as clamshells on a beach? A moustache would soften your potential scorn, tame it to fit a smaller space, and would also filter the ale that foams on your upper lip like the memory of outgoing tide. Now you’re off to Erie, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago—straining every muscle as you map a route right over my wheezing farewell. Must you always be so abrupt? Our glasses leave rings on the table, but in this ratty brown tavern


no one cares. Have a good trip, and think about growing a moustache, a tough, abrasive one like Stalin’s to both tickle and rule the world.

~ William Doreski

William Doreski’s most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). His work has appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, and Natural Bridge.


Time is Running Out, by Christopher Woods


Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas. More of his photos can be seen in his gallery, MOONBIRD HILL


We all die
I keep running from death But it stays on my right and left It follows me daily Drains me of energy I can’t escape the day When I'll be in the grave Subjected to decay Each sunrise I wonder will be the last one I see from my eyes I can’t stop my demise As gray hairs and wrinkles accumulate I know time is getting late So I try to create as I wait for my fate There once was a time I wasn't here And once again I'll disappear This day I fear I don’t know how far or near Death follows us like shadow Like red laser beams like poison tipped arrows The clock's always ticking Time's always running Chasing us displacing us erasing us So put on your best running shoes Put the petal to the metal as you try to out run that bitch There's no way to hit the off switch As you realize this is it Time is almost done and what have you done We run and run and run but it still comes It strikes some silently others violently Everyday is filled with its scent It's so unpleasant Coffins and funerals To the highest numerals Is daily and usual Wish there could be some way to slow down or stop time It’s like that on coming train rolling on down the line Death gets us all Wealthy or impoverished we all get finished From junkies to kings Death takes its toll Young and old Let’s live while we got time 51

Before that train comes down the line Running out of time running out of time Everybody wonders how they're going to die That’s why we slow down when we see an accident on a drive by We all wonder how we'll end Be it cancer, heart disease or suicide ~ DubbleX

DubbleX has been writing & playing music his entire life. He's been published by Street Literature Review Magazine (paper) The Cartier Street Review, the Nov. 3rd Club, Polarity, Mad Swirl,, and wheelhouse magazine. DubbleX writes & plays music to stay sane.


Broken Concrete, Lilacs, Thunder
She and I dipped our rhubarb in jar lids of sugar crunched stringy sour and sweet together puckering our love-hungry tongues eyes blue as flax flowers hair slippery as corn silk. One potato, two potato, three potato four never look behind the door. She was best of us all at not seeing what silence said wasn’t there, so skinny and small she blew away in the first hot wind to come along in the form of a cowboy on a palomino. Hollyhocks and sweetpeas bobbed in their wake and oh - what dust devils they did make! leaving behind box canyons of doors, ashes gritty in leftover mouths hollow with hunger for words in a land where even the idea of words seemed absurd - five potato, six potato seven potato more

~ Diane Gage

Diane Gage tweets 50s-style haiku on Twitter from her 50s-era neighborhood known as Birdland. Other recent publications include “Ode to Gravity” in Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press).


Global Warming
The ice cap is melting and polar bears have begun to mate with grizzlies. White offspring emerge with black shadows under their eyes, long The bears look out at too much sea for a polar sire and too few trees for a grizzly sow. They straddle adapt to a world with diminishing ice and snow. Hunters’ helicopters whip choking air burn Alaskas of oil. the gap claws.

On the other slope of the pole: more of the same.

~ Diane Gage


Street Lamp and Red Leaves by Christopher Woods


Todd Moore’s latest collection, Reviewed by John Yamrus
THE RIDDLE OF THE WOODEN GUN, by Todd Moore Lummox Press P.O. Box 5301 San Pedro, California 90733 144 pages $15.00 available from or

All right, then, let me make this clear…over the last several weeks I’ve sat down and started to write this review any number of times. I’ve got sitting in front of me right now eight pages of notes that I’ve taken. The thing is, I want to be objective. I don’t want the review to come off sounding like I’m an unabashed fan of everything Todd Moore writes…but I just can’t help it. For my money, he just happens to be one of only a handful of the current writers of poetry who can seriously and honestly be considered great. There! My opinions are out in the open. You know how I feel and so I can proceed with my review. In a world filled up with copy-cat poets and writers who mistakenly try to move their work forward by looking back over their shoulders, Todd’s work is unique. He has a very definite voice all his own, and (more importantly) he has something to say. That being said, in THE RIDDLE OF THE WOODEN GUN, the latest installment of his now legendary and elusive Dillinger Series, he brings the famous Depression Era Outlaw to life on paper like no one ever has or ever will. At the center of this poem is the famous wooden gun that Dillinger did or didn’t use in his famous escape from Crown Point Prison in Indiana. Interestingly, the legend of the wooden gun is the only thing in the whole Dillinger tale of enough importance to be able to compete with John Dillinger himself. But, in this current entry of Moore’s, it’s not only Dillinger who has a wooden gun, practically everybody and his brother has one, knows a story about one, or has come into contact with one. On the surface, this may sound like the dumbest idea in the world for even a short poem…don’t even mention an entire 144 page book-long poem. But that’s exactly where Moore’s talent comes into play. He not only manages to pull it off, but in doing so, he also turns it into compelling, page-turning poetry of a very high order. This quirky, unsettling poem is filled with violence and raw emotion. It is also brilliant in its conception and execution. There really is no “story” to the poem per se, at least not in any strict linear sense, there’s just this whole alternative reality to the thing that jumps 56

back and forth in time and location, constantly toying with the idea of Myth as a force in and of itself. This myth (and the gun associated with it) seems to somehow be rooted at the core of the entire Dillinger saga. It doesn’t matter one bit that practically every scene in this book is made up out of whole cloth. It just doesn’t matter, because it only ADDS to the myth. For me, one of the most interesting things about this book from a technical standpoint is the way Moore attacks his subject and lays his words out on the page. Sure, this is a poem/novel…or a novel pretending it’s a poem…but Moore’s lines and the way he uses his page come across as lean and hard as the Great Depression and as deadly and mean as Dillinger himself. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is a book-long poem about the Depression relevant? Read your newspapers. Is John Dillinger relevant? Ask Johnny Depp. The coolest thing about all this is Todd Moore’s known all this for 30 years. We’re just catching up. If you’ve never read any of the poems in the Dillinger series, this is as good a place as any to start. After all, at the end of the day this may only be a poem about a mythical wooden gun, but be forewarned… this one’s a real killer.

John Yamrus has been publishing poetry for 40 years. His newest book of poems, NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, is available from amazon.


Writers’ Guidelines
(found poem in the listings of Poet’s Market)

We want experimental concrete cut-up post-syntactic poems skillful language strong images and sense of place no sappy greeting card stuff no children in sexual situations no wicked mothers or fathers no right-wing hate-mongering We welcome beat post-beat Dada edgy anything interesting original important nothing religious no work by adults no porn no haikus or limericks no ageism sexism racism nothing sentimental obscure or self-absorbed no flowers or butterflies no dead kitty elegies Send us your best Western rural poetry That knocks us off our feet we want unusual perceptive risk-taking imagistic minimal expansionist positive upbeat no scatological prurient or political no poor taste We want seers witchdoctors alchemists maniacs we want to hear your inner shapeshifter in howls growls and moans no singsong rhyming crap no polemics no gratuitous grotesques no somber surrealism no weeping melancholy No previously published poems no simultaneous submissions no style subject or form restrictions no limitations at all we take all types order a back issue or subscribe publication is payment ~ Joan Mazza 58

Old Friends
Terraced on a hillside, weather weary houses stand like people posed on tiered bleachers for a portrait. Gable to gable and glassily peering at each other from across the street, they’ve passed tens-of-thousands of days together. Rain lashed, wind battered, snowed-in and sun blistered, they recall horses tethered to porch railings, long-silenced factory trip-hammers rattling their windows, the knock of the ice man, and lively step of daily milk deliveries. They mark time in layers of rough alligatored paint, hollows worn in stone steps, newel posts polished by generations of palms, floors scuffed by the ebb and flow of feet. Walls remember sobbing babies and childish giggles, the last phlegm choked cough of a cancer-wasted man and his wife’s shrieking wail. They’ve witnessed spouses with raised voices driving angry words like nails, and the delicious, breathless moans of lovemaking. Almost a century older than any inhabitant could ever hope to be, the houses take in a succession of


families, sheltering them like orphans. Landlords and banks be damned, the time worn dwellings demand immortality granted by residents who devoutly build homes by painting clapboards, shingling roofs, repointing chimney bricks, and glazing windows.

~ David K. Leff

David K. Leff is a freelance writer from Collinsville, Connecticut. His essays and fiction have appeared in newspapers and magazines. His nonfiction book, The Last Undiscovered Place, was published by the University of Virginia Press and was a Connecticut Book Award finalist. A second nonfiction book, Deep Travel, was recently released by University of Iowa Press. A volume,The Price of Water, was published by Antrim House. Leff graduated from the University Of Connecticut School Of Law and was Deputy Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 1996 to 2006.


Ex-husband in Tennessee
The last time I’ll see him, he’s on the porch of his hundred-year-old house, gray wood rotting, splintered chairs. I sit upwind of his cigarette. His skin has a yellow tinge, his ankles white and swollen, veins like a blue tattoo, hair thin, face hanging. We sit quietly, only the sound of the creek below, rushing toward Forgetful Lake. I look at him and remember when he laughed and kissed me, we were teens, all of it dangerous, forbidden, first man to touch me, blood rushing, first hard loving. I kiss his forehead, tell him to take care of himself. We both know it’s too late. His liver is hardened; he’s bleeding out.

~ Joan Mazza

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach and seminar leader. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam 1998), her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Möbius, Permafrost, Slipstream, Timber Creek Review, Writer’s Digest, The Fourth River, the minnesota review, Personal Journaling, and Playgirl. She now writes poetry full-time in rural central Virginia.


The Rose, a video

The Rose, a video by Mike Finley … click and see

Mike Finley of St. Paul helped with layout for this issue of CSR. He has busied himself the past year creating spooky videos to go with his poems. Mike is a Pushcart awardee, and a one-time talk-show host.


another woman’s blog
how stupid is your wife not to read your blog, not to google you wonder why you have naked pictures of girlfirends on your hard drive? how stupid was i to think your poems were for me when you sent them out like spam to your baby bloggers? “my wet petal, you make me sweethard. you give me such hope. you blow my wind.” my e.e. cumming, who will fill the space on your grouplist now that i’ve blocked you?

~ Liz Pressman

Liz Pressman is a poet, a playwright, a journalist and a Wiccan priestess. She writes and spells underthetrees, underthemoon in New York City.


Better by Frances Raven ,



Diane Bowen's eclectic art
Daddy -O between music and line it's how the body grooves – a live drawing performance at 55 Bar with Bill Sims Jr. band.

During a two-hour set, the band and I converse using music and drawing, responding back and forth without actually watching each other but simply listening and feeling our way. By using a clear plastic tarp I unfold and eventually surround my self completely continuously drawing, using various wax and oil sticks. In this way, the music and lines exist on the same plane "in the air".

My work focuses on fragility, language and communication through drawing, performance and installation. A line is the simplest and most complicated of marks, the earliest marks made by humans in a cave. This is the intimate language of life.


What the Devil will say in Spring:
Entomb me in your garden, next to the sound of water. Tie blue filament around me, hang me from a bridge. And sing.

~ Helen Vitoria

Helen Vitoria was born and raised in Greece, and now resides in a country cottage in Effort, PA. She studied creative writing at NYU. She facilitates the Poetry Workshop of the Pocono Writers. Her work has appeared in The Dirty Napkin and is forthcoming in PANK. She is currently working on her first full length collection of poetry entitled Corn Exchange.


Mumbai – Marine Drive
Mumbai’s majority live in slums. And between the trans-gothic seafront manse and the overpass limps an emaciated, weepy eyed stray dog. Weeping at the cruelty—not of the resonant Raj bureaucracy, but at the fact that the litter strewn sidewalks are made of interlocking brick. Interlocking brick shaped like dog biscuits.

~ Dave Besseling

Born and reared in Canada, Dave has apparently set out to expropriate the Jack of all trades. He has exhibited his art with the likes of H.R Giger, designed furniture at the behest of Thai royalty, and written for Rolling Stone. He has no idea what comes next.


from saxophone this breath
this admission. valves formation routings a summons pour through a pouring a celebration on the peduncle of flamboyance cataract rebound developed to fit the horse -- {a sing through}— symbiosis of ride of ridership of the announcement that pronounces [to think through branch(ing)(e)(s) [to denude consideration flowthrough outpour respire saxophone://:lung reed://:lung reed://:tongue saxophone://:tongue saxophone://:reed tongue lung lung tongue lunge lung tongue saxophone a lung breeze a lung breezin lungin -- lunge / hung

~ Heller Levinson
NOTE: The fourth line, “... to fit the horse,” refers to the fact that Adolphe Sax designed the saxophone so that it could be played by a soldier while riding a horse. Sax felt that the introduction of the saxophone to the military orchestra would enhance its efficacy. Heller Levinson lives in NYC where he studies animal behavior. He has published in over a hundred journals and magazine including Sulfur, Hunger, Talisman, First Instensity, Laurel Review, Omega, The Wandering Hermit, Jacket, The Jivin' Ladybug, etc. His most recent publication, Smelling Mary, is newly out from Howling Dog Press and has been nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin Prize. www.hellerlevinson


Graffiti photo above taken by DubbleX in Washington Heights, New York City


When I Say I'm Tired of Writing
When I say I haven’t written a poem in two months what I mean is I can’t sleep thinking about my friend’s broken nose in need of surgery—her husband’s mistress showed up at the job unannounced—there’s no metaphor for violence when it’s your face held up, bloody, to the light. I won’t title this for two weeks, nameless, unlike my cousin’s baby, Maria for three months, aborted three days ago. I read more issues of Vanity Fair than ever before sitting in the waiting room, a young Asian man’s arms around his lover, crying. No woman does this for fun, writing a poem, an invasive procedure, all of you exposed and expelled; I can’t write recuperating from latex gloves that irritate me more than a split infinitive. When I say I’m tired of writing, means I’m ready for real-time love that ain’t bogged down in tropes ‘cause I finally found a woman who says what she means. When I say I’ve put poetry on the back burner, I’ve buried an uncle who meant more to me than a three-minute slam poem mocking the republican mafia; I’d like to unearth memories of him without rhyme & wit on the tip of my tongue. Ten months into the year, every poem’s a morgue preoccupied with death: the coming of cancer, lumpectomies, chemo scheduled in between open mikes. I’ve seen women lose breasts as swiftly as the elderly lose memory, seen cancer in remission return like a boogey man to finish the job; suddenly a poem making love to the sweet and supple curves of a woman ends with her body embalmed in an elegy. When I say I’m tired of writing, I mean I’d like to be alone, though we’re never alone, ‘cause the dead are as entitled as the living to sunsets from a front porch in South Carolina, where Nanna’s first love was lynched with a poem in his shirt pocket, the strangled verse of the departed buried in the 71

dense cotton air of Orangeburg whose history I can’t unwrite; an heirloom undesirable as a fetus, an aborted memory caught between Nanna’s grief and the dead-weight of my pen. No metaphor for violence when it’s your face, bloody, your breasts, when it’s your lover held up, bloody, to the light, your words held up, bloody, and a poem or two overdue.

~ Amber Atiya

Native Brooklynite Amber Atiya has read and performed at venues including the Cornelia Street Cafe, Lehman College, and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as the 2009 Brownstone Poets Anthology, Coloring Book, an anthology of poetry and prose, and Word Riot. Her writing tackles issues of race, sex, and sexuality, among other things, with honesty and wit.


graffiti photostaken in Washington Heights, New York City by DubbleX


He would have
Much too much to say He would lead me on And teach me The perfect ballet I wouldn't speak mine You see, I ever had His words to say With his rolling tongue He'd keep them in my mouth His touch was The touch of Midas So I would gather form And just as soon Would die away In private, I would write poetry Do words have lives? I would wonder Bless them if they do! I’d say ~ Kush Arora


Mr. Antolini, #2
How clumsy climax is, for too much is still confused, like a lingering fever. How much did I desire only to possess? How much because Mother's paps soured? How much because you were still the boy I wanted to have been? We can know only that my act is over. The show was long. Your "beautiful character" must now go into a little box to await someone else who needs the performer. It's just that I want to shout across our glass that I am grateful for your smiles, angry that you smiled so seldom. How strange to see what always has been: I your teacher, you my student, a good relationship, but lonely, transient. The other was a dream I had from which....


but understandably you fidget. In time you will know the heart's exaggerations, but not from this teacher. My box is ready. Our detachment may endure.

~ Louie Crew
Louie Crew, 72, an Alabama native, is an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband of 35+ years. As of today, editors have published 1,940 of Crew's poems and essays. Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003). The University of Michigan collects Crew's papers.


A neon-yellow fish steps out of its vehicle and, not noticing the absence of water, strides to the mailbox and deposits a letter. A bird swoops by and, with its waxy black feathers, catches the fish's attention. The bird and the fish have the same thought about each other: “Where is your flock?” “Where is your school?” The fish's letter, in the dark, begins to search for others like itself, to see who will be moving in the same direction.

~ Andrew Christ

Andrew Christ was born in Buffalo, New York, on October 6, 1966. A Midwesterner all his life, he now lives in Midland, Michigan, where he's produced several videos featuring poetry for public-access television. One video, the award-winning "Where Do the Roots Go?" features Saginaw residents in an introduction to Theodore Roethke, the only poet from Michigan to win a Pulitzer. In June 2005, he joined with other members of Saginaw's poetry group, the River Junction Poets, and started Poets Birthday Readings at the Saginaw Barnes & Noble bookstore.


A Roman Laborer Counsels His Son
Son, I want to tell you: I am full of Rome. I am Rome. The confidence of Rome escapes my mouth here, now. The road I'm building, it is Rome. The Greeks never built such roads. The Greeks built statues and buildings. They built philosophy and art and music and war and excellence, always excellence. They wanted excellence so much they tore themselves apart trying to get it. And then Rome conquered. Now Rome has them and Rome has their slaves. We will fill the world with Rome. I am an old man, and I will not see it. For me it is a dream. But the roads I build, they will live to see the world full of Roman roads with Romans traveling over them from Asia and from Gaul, from Africa to all places ships go. The Hebrews go over Roman roads. The barbarians go over Roman roads. Asians go. Romas all. Filling the world with Rome. They can call themselves whatever they like, but when they live with Roman laws and Roman customs, they are Roman. They work for Rome. They pay Rome's army and Rome's army goes and gets more like them. There is no end. It cannot be otherwise.

~ Andrew Christ


Life is too short for small talk
for Larry Rivers

Lover's unfinished love on the unfinished canvas That’s how you will be remembered In my poem dedicated to your memory Not totally edited, but in progress Unfinished notes played on the saxophone For Kaufman, for Ginsberg, for Corso Born in the Bronx as Yitzroch Grossberg Jamming at Julliard with Miles Davis The road takes you over The mind expanded landscape Experiments into the land of Beats To Nigeria and Asia To half Hell, to full Hell and back Painting portraits, playing sax, chasing ghosts Making movies, purgatory partying Getting married, bringing up daughters, All in a life’s, wasteland In a life of a beat Larry was reading a poem about Frank O'Hara Across the street at St. Mark's Church Last words were fading And suddenly he was gone, gone! Neighbor for almost 3 decades At a party at his loft on 13th street Next to the unfinished paintings My brain was trying to fill in the blanks.


The end of Bohemia in East Village The ghost of Larry Rivers, Playing jazz at the sunset Left too early, from unfinished act Unfinished conversation and Unfinished feeling in my heart

~ Valery Oisteanu

Valery Oisteanu is an internationally flavored writer and artist born in Russia (1943) and educated in Romania. He adopted Dada and Surrealism as a philosophy of art and life. Immigrating to New York City in 1972, he has been writing in English for 37 years. Oisteanu is well known to downtown NYC audiences and performs frequently in theaters and clubs. He specializes in his original Zen Dada multi-media poetry and music, his unmistakable style and show of "Jazzoetry."


"8 x11 Sheet"
A dying pen always delivers one thick blemish before its final ink trail fades away down the left-side margin, in a last scribbled effort towards literacy.

~ Sonia Halbach

Sonia Halbach, originally from Devils Lake, ND, is currently finishing up her BA in English and Communications at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. In 2007 she had the opportunity to read one of her poems before the poet Maya Angelou and a crowd of 3500. Her poetry has been published in Chronogram, The Taylor Trust, Main Channel Voices, and Breadcrumb Scabs.


The Measly Subtraction
Cab drivers will lie about anything, especially money. “I made two grand last week.” As if this explains the holes in their shoes, the fact that they can’t afford a razor and have breath like a maggoty rhinoceros. I always wonder why it is so important to impress the rest, when we all have to go home alone and count our greasy bills and do the measly subtraction of rent and electricity and food and beer. They lie and lie and the world goes round like godless miles through the city only to end up back in the same holehome. We all want to be respected even by those we do not respect and even those who nobody respects want the same thing and feel the same pull, the same strange question of the self: what will my brother think? ~ Mather Schneider


The Traveling Show
Mama Cat brings her three kittens around in the mornings. I watch them play in the bushes for a while. They attack each other and Mama too who sometimes remembers what it was like to be young. Mostly Mama just eyes them proudly or indifferently and smacks them if they get too rowdy. I lean down like a falling statue and pour milk into the dirty bowl in the shade. They bounce up to me like new tennis balls and I can touch them sometimes like this as they are lapping it up I can touch them they let me if I’m careful and gentle they are small and soft like trembling flowers. When every drop is gobbled up they tumble away through the fence a traveling show bidding farewell to the local suckers. ~ Mather Schneider
Mather Schneider is a 39 year old cab driver living in Tucson, learning Spanish, sweating. He is a writer and painter and my work has appeared in print since 1995. He has a full-length book coming out by Interior Noise Press soon.


And there is always Someone I may know Someone I am advised to contact. Some twit On tweeter Want to meet her? I used to ask my neighbor How to make soup. I sat high on a chair Waving from a city stoop. And we were all in the flesh and all in the loop.

~ Doug Holder

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His work has appeared in the Long Island Quarterly, Poetrybay, Main St. Rag, Paradigm Journal, Poetica, Cyclamen and Swords, and many others. He is the author of the poetry collection "The Man in the Booth in the Midtown Tunnel" ( Cervena Barva Press) and recently released a collection of interviews: "From the Paris of New England: Interviews with Poets and Writers." He works as an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.


Killing the Cat
Both plants were still alive when you left, but don't think they died from missing you. It was my own ambivalence. I wasn't sure about the water or light—too much might kill them, not enough, too. So I simply forgot them, like the morning you started your motor without looking. You hated that cat from the start, her constant meowing for attention, the way she'd climb onto your chest to bring you out of sleep. When you put her out for good, your plants flourished, safe from her constant prying paws. But nothing survives on its own, least of all love. Now that you're gone, I check the locks at least three times before I go to bed—it's not safe these days for a woman living alone. But there were nights I slept so soundly in your arms, like the black cat curled inside the engine.

~ Lorie Allred

Lorie Allred received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1995. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as The New York Quarterly, Orbis, The Sun, and The Evening Street Review. She just finished writing a novel for young adults, and currently works as a librarian in North Carolina.


The Eleventh House, by Orna Ben-Shoshan


Interview with spotlight artist Orna Ben-Shoshan by Thomas Hubbard
©2009 Thomas Hubbard

Orna Ben-Shoshan, a globally-known artist who paints scenes she "channels" from beyond consciousness, spoke with me recently via an internet video hookup, using her computer at her home in Raanana, Israel. She most graciously shared with us a brief glimpse inside her amazing art. Here's the conversation as nearly as I can report it. TCSR: As you speak with us from your home in Raanana, Orna, will you look around you and describe to us what you see? ORNA: I'm sitting at my desk in an open area adjoining my studio. I can see into the studio and down the hall. TCSR: while? You're in Israel now, but didn't you live in the U.S. for a

ORNA: I'm back in Israel for twelve years now, but I lived in the U.S. for a long time, maybe fifteen years. I liked it there, in Massachusetts, but it's good to be back home. I was born here in Israel. I grew up in the desert, in big, empty spaces. TCSR: How do you spend your spare time there?

ORNA: Spare time? Spare time? There is no spare time when you are doing something you love. I take time occasionally for the beach, or my friends. But mostly I work. I love my studio and my work. That's how I spend my time, what I want to do. TCSR: How did you learn to paint, Orna?

ORNA: I taught myself. I was trained in graphic design, and I've been painting now for thirty years. Over this time I've learned how to articulate the scenes that come to me, images I channel from some other reality. It's important to me that other people see these, that other people feel the peace and comfort and joy in them. TCSR: Orna, the scenes I see in your art are unusual and for some reason, somehow familiar at the same time. Can you say something about 87

the genesis of these images? ORNA: They come to me by channeling, from somewhere away from us, some other reality. I was seeing visions even back in high school. But in school, I didn't paint anything I couldn't explain. So I ignored the visions and images. My paintings were mostly social commentary until 1994, when my grandfather died. Something opened then. I decided that up to that time I hadn't painted what I was "supposed" to paint. And then it took time to perfect my articulation of the images that were coming. But I'm a better painter now. And I know this is the right thing for me. TCSR: So you paint the visions that have come to you. But they must be fleeting, and it takes time to paint them, I'm sure. ORNA: True. It's important to capture the underlying energy of a vision. When I'm given a glimpse of these places, these alternate realities, I merely document what's there. I suppose I could decide not to do it, but I committed myself so the public can see them too. TCSR: yours? Why is it important to you that the public see these images of

ORNA: Because it does something to people. It changes something for them when they see my art. There's a kind of energy that people can take away with them. Someone said that looking at one of my paintings is like having a window into another dimension. TCSR: How do folks usually react upon seeing your art, Orna?

ORNA: They are attracted to it. Let me tell you — recently I had an exhibit in town. It was hot, a summer week and the air conditioner wasn't working. I was worried people wouldn't stay, but they stayed anyway, to look at all the paintings. These images give people something. Observing metaphysical art induces lucidity and reduces stress, I think. People who view my artwork often comment that they can deeply connect to what they see, even though they do not necessarily understand it. For others it simply evokes positive and uplifting feelings as they are influenced subconsciously. I am especially pleased when I succeed to channel this knowledge and create a positive impact on the viewer. TCSR: It has been said that our reality is merely an agreement among all peoples that this is the way things are, the way they work. That it might be possible to enter some different reality, perhaps one of those you have painted. So I wonder, if you could live in one of the visions you've 88

painted — live inside one of your paintings — which one would you choose? ORNA: I don't know if I'd want to do that permanently. Right now I prefer to live in this material world. But I like to visit those other realities sometimes. TCSR: Your art has a huge online presence. So Orna, we both know that many artists are very private persons, and it occurs to me to wonder how do you feel about having your art online. ORNA: It makes me very happy, because without my website, without my online presence, most of the world wouldn't know about my art. TCSR: And the digital art on your website — I am particularly impressed with your re-interpretation of DaVinci's famous Last Supper painting, in which you substitute at-term pregnant women for all but one of the men. Orna BenShoshan's Art Videos Do you create that digital art by yourself, or do you have technical help with it? ORNA: I create it. Remember, my formal training was in graphic design. Those digital creations are simple for me. TCSR: Well your website is huge and amazing as nearly as I can see. And I note your King Solomon Cards. Are they something like Tarot cards? ORNA: They are a different symbolism. About a year ago, I began working with a mystic who knows King Solomon's symbols. You know, King Solomon used signet rings to stamp these symbols onto documents. The Kabbalistic Solomon's Symbols are known worldwide. Between this mystic and myself, we have created the King Solomon Reading Cards, with a booklet explaining the meanings, and people from all over the world have purchased them. King Solomon Cards :: k-s-cards TCSR: Well Orna, you have achieved a level of self-expression and public recognition many only dream of. So for those of us impressed and 89

perhaps enthralled by your art, perhaps you have some advice? ORNA: I can only say, be serious about what you do. Do it as best you can; be a perfectionist. Express yourself in the best, most professional way possible. And put energy into what you do — a lot of energy. It's not easy to be a pro. My advice to other artists is: you must be willing to invest a huge effort like I did in order to bring out your artwork to the public - it's a matter of believing in what you do and realizing the importance of what you can teach people. TSCR: to you. Thanks, Orna, for a wonderful conversation. And good luck

Note to publishers: This material is copyrighted by Thomas Hubbard. The Cartier Street Review is hereby granted one-time serial rights for electronic and print versions. Ownership remains with the author, who may re-publish it elsewhere. Thomas Hubbard, retired writing instructor: Published in Red Ink, Arabesques Review: International Poetry and Literature Journal, ToToπos Poetry International Fall 2006, Albani: Indigenous Poetry and Other Voices International Poetry Anthology as well as in numerous other print and online publications. He has read for the Distinguished Writer Series in Tacoma; Presented Workshop at Whidbey Island Writers Conference; Featured for Whatcom Poetry Series, Seattle Slam, Olympia Poetry Network, and numerous other venues, and reviews books for Square Lake and Raven Chronicles. He serves editorially on Raven Chronicles and Cartier Street Review. He writes poetry, fiction and book reviews in a cabin on Blanchard Mountain, in the Washington Chuckanuts.


I’ll weep like Karamchedu!
Essay by Narender Bedide
A television news report I'd seen a few years ago captured this strange tale of a small clan of people living atop trees less than five hundred miles from my desk. They ate, relaxed, slept and lived on the branches of peepul trees in a farm adjoining a village. They belonged to a community of swineherds, people who normally live inside villages or on their fringes. They interact with other villagers every day and have a role to play in village life. They are not a part of pre-history who forgot to erase themselves or evolve. Their story illustrates the ineffable nature of reaches of marginality in Indian society: the abyss of marginality could be lurking outside your door. A single mis-step, and you could drop off the horizon. Land and caste are dominant themes in poetry in Telugu, by poets from the Dalit Bahujan (or the ‘lower’ castes) communities, because land, as little as a quarter of an acre, means a firmer hold on rural economic life and caste determines your chances of inheriting or acquiring land. Narayanaswami laments as though he was talking to himself:
anytime anywhere land's the problem the problem's only land a little land for food or for your death the problem's wholly land

The problem of land plagues rural India: nearly half of its residents don't own any while less than one-fifth own more than three-fifths of all arable land. Land reforms after independence became a farcical exercise with large chunks of land mysteriously disappearing from government records. In a land where space scientists pray at temples before they launch satellites or missions to the moon, those who don't own land are doubly disadvantaged. The rural economy centers around agriculture, offering limited scope for regular jobs or livelihood choices outside of farming. The caste ordering of society completes the job of disenfranchising the poor from the Dalit Bahujan communities who form the overwhelming majority of landless, leaving them with little say in the local community, its religious and secular institutions. Political democracy has never realized its fullest potential in rural India, with elections being the only visible sign of its shadowy presence. The vote, not surprisingly, is the only entitlement 91

that the marginalized are familiar with and they make the best use of it in the only way they know. Demand for labour peaks during harvest season and that's the only time when farm workers can negotiate wages which are equal to or higher than the minimum wages prescribed by the government, and that's the knowledge that the lower caste voter uses during 'election season', trading his vote for short term monetary or other gains. Vangapandu Prasada Rao, a Maoist poet, calls upon people to shun this toothless ‘democratic’ ritual and join the course of armed resistance:
look! watching the vote yatras and the promises mother India wept and in the tears mother gave birth to the sun of rebellion won't you come, mate?

Nationalist propagandists see in the map of India a benevolent mother stretching out her arms from Assam in the east to the Punjab and beyond in the west, the tapering peninsula in the south forming her lower limbs and feet, the vast plains in the centre her torso and Kashmir in the far north holding up her head. Tucked away deep inside Mother India, somewhere near her loins, is Telangana, formerly a part of the princely kingdom of Hyderabad, and now a part of the mainly Telugu speaking state of Andhra Pradesh. Armed resistance had been a recurring form of political assertion in the region: during 1946-51 over 5,000 peasants, tenants and landless farm workers led by the nascent Communist Party of India had died fighting feudal militias, the army of the Nizam (the ruler of Hyderabad) first and then the armed forces of the newly formed republic of India. Later, beginning in the late sixties, a section of the mainstream communist parties which had embraced parliamentary democracy, broke away and chose the path of a guerilla warfare to ‘liberate’ the villages and overthrow the State. Naxalism, named after the tribal hamlet in Bengal where it was born, soon spread to Telangana. In one rousing poem written in the 70s, K. G. Satyamurthy (writing as ‘Sivasagar’ or ‘Siva’s ocean’) charts the early history (and geography) of the movement through some events or ‘battles’:
the bow and arrows hidden in the mahua trees' tresses I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the spears hidden by the path to Lohar Jwala I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the glistening swords dipped in the landlord's blood I give you my brother! I give you my brother!


the guns hidden in the Tulasikonda ravine I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the rifle snatched from the Garla train I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the sepoy's throat slit in Rupaayi Konda I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the martyrs' blood flowing in misty mountains valleys I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the moonlight caught in the eyes of dark hills I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the flowers that grew wild on the Budarisingi peaks I give you my brother! I give you my brother! the heroism of Boddapadu- the lightning courage of Garuda Bhadra I give you my brother! I give you my brother!

But the face and the voice of the Naxalite armed resistance movement across Telangana and India has been the balladeer Gaddar who sings:
it will not stop, it will not stop, it will not stop this war of the hungry will not stop it will not stop, it will not stop, it will not stop until the exploiters’ rule ends this armed struggle will not stop it will not stop, it will not stop, it will not stop the plough that tilled the fields says these fields are mine the hands that planted the saplings say these saplings are ours the sickle that cut the crop says this harvest is ours it will not stop, it will not stop, it will not stop

The scriptures of the Hindus expressly forbid the shudras, the fourth varna in the varna system of stratification, and the panchamas, or the fifth varna (which actually fall outside the four varna system but is considered the lowest order in the caste system) or the former ‘untouchables’ or outcastes, from reading or writing, from any but the most rudimentary education. This proscription had worked so well in the last two millennia that very few of the ancient and medieval texts now available in Telugu, recently anointed a Classical Language by the Government of India, were written by writers and poets belonging to castes fitting those two varnas. 93

Dalits, formerly ‘untouchables’, are the most oppressed group of castes in India along with Bahujans, who belong to the hundreds of shudra working castes assigned hereditary occupations ranging from farming, weaving or pottery to fishing, even such strange functions as singing/performing the ‘histories’ and myths of the origin of castes higher up in the hierarchy! In the vast middle and bottom of Hindu society, the practice of poetry itself represents a giant leap across history. A freedom to imagine all other freedoms. For the orthodox scholar this leap heralded the beginning, in Sivasagar’s words, of the ‘chandala age’:
Shambhuka, smile on his lips, is killing Rama. Ekalavya with an axe is chopping down Drona's thumb Bali with his little feet is stamping Vamana down to patala Manu, piercing needles in his eyes cutting his tongue pouring lead in his ears is rolling in the graveyard standing on the butcher's knife of time the Chandala roars setting four hounds on Adi Sankara

This poem refers to popular episodes featuring much revered characters from Hindu mythology and turns them upside down: Rama, the Hindu avatar who killed Shambhuka, a shudra, for reading the Vedas, Manu, the Hindu law giver, who prescribed gruesome penalties for shudras who violated the prohibition on reading, and so on, are being meted out the same penalties as their textual victims. The wheel is being pushed back. The Chandala (one of the derogatory names ‘untouchables’ were referred to in Hindu texts), began around early twentieth century. Around the same time Dr.Ambedkar also began his long struggle to wrest dignity for the Dalits from the colonial rulers and more importantly from the ‘upper’ caste Hindu leadership of the Indian National Congress. This movement gathered momentum in the early sixties, marked by the struggle of the Dalit Bahujan poets against three kinds of orthodoxies: the language orthodoxy which looked down upon any transgression of rigid rules of prosody and even vocabulary among other things, the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy promoted by the Marxist-left writers and poets who bullied any writer who failed to agree with their ‘scientific’ class analysis of Indian society into silence, and the caste orthodoxy which actually worked 94

through the mostly upper caste members of the first two classes. Rejecting traditions in writing didn’t mean the Dalit Bahujans had to work in a vacuum: they could draw upon a rich diverse reservoir of oral traditions, music and theatrical forms that the Dalit Bahujans had accumulated over centuries. Gaddar and Vangapandu Prasada Rao, for instance, refashioned old theatrical traditions like the oggu kathas, burra kathas and yaksha gaanas into vibrant new media that allowed them to sing and perform their poetry. Song formed an integral part of the every day routine of the ‘productive classes’ as Kancha Ilaiah calls the Dalit Bahujans. It accompanied every chore, every pain and disappointment as well as moments of celebration. In the poetry of the Dalit Bahujans, one still hears the tambourine, the clash cymbals and the ghungroos of the village performers, along with efflusion of raw dramatic emotions. Joopaka Subhadra, in the following poem discusses how the Kongu, the free end of the sari, doesn’t stand guard over the Dalit working woman: it’s a tool, a companion, a comrade-in-drudgery. Much unlike the ghunghat (the Hindu equivalent of the veil) draped over the head of an upper-caste woman.
kongu ties up my hunger tucks my stomach in and watches over me like maisamma of the tank when work turns my sweat into a canal she mops it up like a cool breeze roots and vegetables, grains and the komati's groceries like the moon clutching together the stars she is the shining bag that carries them on my head in the fields and the paddies when i grow tired she spreads out a bed to give me rest when my grief streams from my eyes to the skies she draws towards herself my eye babies like a mother, and holds them, my dirt rag when my husband reaches out in love or anger like a ball of butter she always gets caught before I from the insider or outsider, to aggression or violence my kongu rag always succumbs first... kissing my ears and cheeks from cold stares, blazing looks from the blasts of heat waves from the sneakiness of rain drops over the dawn of my face the sapphires of my hair she holds up an umbrella of senna flowers offers cool relief like the shade of a tree she becomes a warm fire and covers my shoulders a pad for cool pots that slake your thirst from a mile away


she burns her fingers handling vessels on the stove hugs my crying babies like warm baby clothing though she works cheerfully by my side all day in the quarry she wipes the life streams flowing from my body's sluices all night like a cow nursing a new-born calf she licks all dirt off my body like a wicker wall she hides the modugu stain spreading through my cloth only when she becomes the snake charmer's been at my waist do planting, harvesting, weeding and threshing chores and songs screech into motion in pleasure and sorrow, my dirt rag that rolls in my hands, sweat, sides, bones, limbs my work and songs, in crisis and comfort sticks to me like dirt that falls on my feet, in my life path my companion...slaving like the washerman's stone when does she find any leisure? she's not the patchy palloo that stands guard over my head nor the hobbling stone... over my breast how can i drag her into the bazaar and set fire to her honour?

The first generation of Dalit Bahujan writers started out as members of various left literary movements. In the sixties and seventies a great number joined the various Naxalite factions, some like K. G. Satyamurthy (‘Sivasagar’) worked even as active participants in armed struggles. Gaddar and Vangapandu Prasada Rao worked in the overground cultural wing of one of the largest Naxalite factions. Steadily disillusioned by the upper-caste leadership many now openly question their understanding of Indian social realities, and ridicule upper caste ideas that caste plays no role in the continued marginalization of more and more Indians. Ko.Pra asks the upper caste left revolutionaries:
sirs! weren't we of the superstructure until yesterday how would we have any base without any foundation how can there be any structure true! until now, building everything for you became our only occupation


leaving us with no building of our own

and warns them:
wasn't it from your blows, sirs, that we learnt how to retaliate? the time will come the time has to come saved, like the sharpness of a knife, the resentment so intently saved in our bellies isn't it only now, sirsthat it is gathering strength? we are boycotting your courts where those who should be in cages sit on thrones and deliver judgments the gun might be yours but the hands that shall press the trigger are ours

we proudly declare!

Now, since the early eighties, steady streams of writers from the Dalit Bahujan communities, many following an Ambedkarite rather than Marxist school of thought, are valiantly pushing caste into mainstream discourse. Dr.Ambedkar said:
‘…that the Caste System is not merely a division of labour. It is also a division of labourers. Civilized society undoubtedly needs division of labour. But in no civilized society is division of labour accompanied by this unnatural division of labourers into watertight compartments. The Caste System is not merely a division of labourers which is quite different from division of labour—it is a hierarchy in which the divisions of labourers are graded one above the other. In no other country is the division of labour accompanied by this gradation of labourers.’

He’d foreseen that political democracy would be meaningless without social democracy. He questioned the tenuous Hindu identity of ‘untouchables’ and rejected it altogether calling for ‘the annihilation of caste’. The Telugu poets who claimed a new Dalit identity, rejected their own identities and history (or nonhistory) in the process, thus remained dominated by upper caste Hindus. Dr. Endloori Sudhakar attempts to restore meaning to all the history of the 97

oppressed Dalits which was never written through raising his grandfather (a Madiga, whose traditional, caste-assigned occupation is tanning and working with leather) to Godhood:
for having skinned the five spirits by driving a nail into the sky another into the patala and soaking the hide in the seven seas you deserve those sun and moon gods as sandals for your feet!

Dr. Sudhakar uses the Five Spirits (the five elements), Patala (the netherworld), the seven seas, the Sun and Moon Gods- all important themes in Hindu cosmology, to build a grand memorial to the Madiga, banished to the fringes of the village through all history and made to dispose of carcasses of dead animals and other filth. Sivasagar, in a very moving poem, laments all the bitterness and anguish building among Dalits on the issue of periodic incidents of brutal, organized violence and killing by upper caste oppressors in villages across the length of India:
you, sarpanch babu! sir! when he stopped people washing their animals in the tank didn't you, with a whip lash my son's chest mark him with stains in the cinema outside our village for buying a big ticket* and sitting alongside you didn't you scheme to cut his hands legs was it your daughter who looked at him or he who looked at her I do not know butto kill lion-like Yesobu you wove the noose how can we forget this history!


All Dalits experience discrimination and exclusion especially in the villages in some form almost every day. But organized violence also happens on a much more regular basis than is reported by the media - on farms, schools, colleges, places of worship and in their own homes. In Karamchedu, a prosperous village in coastal Andhra Pradesh, a huge mob of thousands of upper caste Hindus, outraged by a Dalit youth’s refusal to allow upper caste men to wash their cattle in the tank used by the Dalits for drinking water (the upper castes have their own tank) descended upon the Dalit part of the village and killed several residents. This occurred in 1985. The Dalits of Karamchedu refused to let the incident die, quietly, under the slow uncaring wheels of the Indian justice system like many such horrors in the past. Threats of more violence, badgering and bribing of witnesses, social boycotts -they faced everything to fight for justice. Karamchedu, a tragedy, also marked a new awakening in Dalit history:
my son's death this isn't the first many times in our village he died and lived to live he joined the army as a corpse, he has returned alive ayyo! My mind's not in my mind my mind's not in my mind sir! In my eyes the pyre dances son! Yesoba! Yesoba! Yesoba! My father! for you I'll weep like Karamchedu for you I'll weep like Chunduru for you I'll weep like Vempenta I'll weep like yesterday's Gosayipalem!

To weep like Karamchedu is not to weep quietly, alone, like it used to be through Dalit history. To weep like Karamchedu is to wail, to wake up the whole neigbourhood and the world. To weep like Karamchedu is to make a big racket.


Narender Bedide, 46, lives in Hyderabad, India. Has worked in the field of advertising for nearly twenty years, or he thinks he did. Loves to blog, but caste takes over everything he writes, and reads.


The Golden Navigator by Orna Ben-Shoshan ,


Dream Casting
On the backs of pine beetles burrowed beneath dense tree bark this journey is hidden. … The bedroom window’s hairline cracks turn streetlights into muted prisms. In the parking lot below, talk of pancakes and bar fights. I’m somewhere between it and sleep, finally drifting off. Next morning hands cupped around coffee, I sit a fresh persona. Dust sparkles off lamplight, sifts, and settles.

~ Charles Clifford Brooks III

Charles Clifford Brooks III has been published in The Dead Mule, Eclectica, Gloom Cupboard, Cerebration, Underground Voices, Alba, Deep South, The Istanbul Literary Review, Prick of the Spindle, Conversations, nibble, and Semaphore. He is currently poetry editor for Literary Magic Magazine. Charles' poetry has been featured on the Joe Milford Poetry Show. He believes every artist should join The Guerilla Poetics Project. His first book of poetry, Whirling Metaphysics, will be published by Leaf Garden Press.


Solitary Whiskey Tonight
A beautiful woman, too young for me, really, but more woman than I'd seen in a long damn time, and smart and clean and loving and just a bit irrational about some of the things I do or say, but she said she loved my half-breed ass as much as I loved her. She gave me a big hug at the door to her cabin, and invited me in as I stood there on the porch holding a cheap basket with two pair of her earrings, and some other stuff, and her bowl with some of my own quinua salad, so I stepped on inside and we made small talk for about my two minute small-talk limit then I handed her the stuff and explained how I'd been missing my steel guitar, sitting by her couch with the steel wedged between the strings and body, a pick stuck through the strings up by the nut and I picked it up like you'd pick up a dead hawk beside the highway, then we hugged again and I kissed the side of her neck just a little, "still friends?" "Of course," she smiled like a rainbow smiles so you won't notice the rain as much, and I bit my lip hard, smiled and walked up to my car sitting there in her driveway, wishing I had turned it around before getting out and walking onto her porch. ~ Thomas Hubbard


The wind goes everywhere, and here it is back again, with stories for us. But who's listening?



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