Rusty Barnes: “The Act of Working”

 

 

The Act of Working

The act of working occupied 
my father like an obsession,

a crushing sixty hours a week,
running a loader over and over

again into heaps of gravel
and sand, piling dump trucks

full and sending them out into
the world. Rock he loaded built

prisons and roads all over 
the states of NY and PA

but he came home every night
dirty and so exhausted he’d

eat then fall asleep, cigarette
still in his fingers and  I write

this poem over and over,
seeing my father lie there,

hoping somehow this poem,
this time, will end differently.

 

About the Author: Rusty Barnes lives in Revere MA with his family. His poems appear widely, in Plumb, Heavy Feather Review, and Black Coffee Review, most recently. His latest chapbook, Apocalypse in A-Minor, is out from Analog Submission Press.

 

Image Credit: Lewis Hine “Factory Worker” (1931) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

William Taylor Jr: “A Seventeen Dollar Glass of Wine and the Early Works of Matisse”

 

 

A Seventeen Dollar Glass of Wine and the Early Works of Matisse 

I’m drinking overpriced wine 
in the cafe at the Museum 
of Modern Art on a Tuesday 
afternoon.

Summer is done and the tourists 
have gone back to whatever sad places
spawned them.

Everything is quiet and civilized
as I sip the Chardonnay of the day
while reading about Baudelaire
and his miserable genius.

The women are pretty
in skirts and dresses
whispering to each other
as they gaze upon some lesser 
work of Edvard Munch.

Everything is clean, white and pristine
while outside are all the things 
the headlines drone on about:

cancer and freeway crashes 
things on fire and the inevitable 
collapse of every decent 
thing we’ve ever known.

But it all seems so far away 
and meaningless when 
compared to what Matisse 
achieved in his later years

and it feels pointless 
to dwell upon such dreariness
when confronted with Warhol’s 
comic book yellows 
and reds.

Here the mistakes of our past
have been captured and neutralized
handsomely framed and placed 
upon the walls with gilded 
plaques of explanation

so that we might see
and soberly contemplate
for a moment or two
before moving on 
to something else 

and then back downstairs 
for another glass of wine 
before everything
closes.

 

About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The Chiron Review. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, a new collection of poetry, is forthcoming from Six Ft. Swells Press.

 

Image Credit: “Henri Matisse Working on a Paper Cut Out” Creative Commons Public Domain

Seth Jani: “Vesper”

 

 

Vesper

It’s getting dark now.
I set down the half-finished book
and find the kingdom filling with water.
Insects murmur as the light drains
and a second radiance pours out
its alms.
May I be forgiven for never knowing
the earth closely enough?
For never discerning the small words
in the wind’s confusion?
I pause and watch the shadow
of a moment.
I count the breaths between
eons of time.
From the lip of the canyon
the blood moon almost fits
into the palm of my hand.

 

About the Author: Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). Their work has appeared in The American Poetry JournalChiron ReviewRust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about them and their work can be found at www.sethjani.com.

 

Image Credit: Alfred Stieglitz”Equivalents” (1927) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

John Dorsey: “Perpetual Motion”

 

Perpetual Motion

in the 1980’s 
everything was smooth sailing 
except 
drugs
aids
starvation
exploding space shuttles 
&
the threat of foreign wars 

we had miami vice
& a small hole 
peeking through the ozone layer
from all of those cans of hairspray 

everyone in the trailer park 
had a waterbed

our neighbors at the top of the hill
got their kids a chihuahua puppy for christmas

they would take turns tossing it
onto the bed 

watching the poor thing 
sway back & forth
like a drunken sailor

only a few weeks 
after bringing it home 
it slid right off the bed

snapping its neck 
without even a whimper

rubber ball still firmly in its mouth

as a child’s birthday party went on
in full swing in the next room

it was so quiet
that we thought 
it was playing a game

& then the youngest neighbor boy
started wailing  

as his brother approached the body 
with plastic army men
as if it was just some peaceful beast 
he had killed in battle

their father covered it up 
with a beach towel
as their mother asked us
who wanted cake

& somehow like magic
the decade was over
before it had even really 
gotten started.

 

About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017) and Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

 

More By John Dorsey:

The Mark Twain Speech

Creatures of Our Better Nature

Picker

 

Image Credit: Marion Post Wolcott “Parked cars on private yard and trailer park sign where many workers from United Aircraft live in their own trailers. East Hartford, Connecticut”  (1941) The Library of Congress

 

 

Ben Nardolilli: “Large Bull-Thistle”

 

 

Large Bull-Thistle

Looking up Chenango County,
It’s what I do at work, travelling through
The internet and coming across
Maps, images, and demographic data
For counties I’ll probably never go to

But I help out the people there,
Or who died there and whose families
Have moved on to other places,
They need their checks
And I make sure they get them

I know death unites us all,
Yet asbestos seems a runner-up,
I wonder if I’ve ever been exposed
And if some pale tumor
Is ready to bloom inside me because of it

Then I can join with the men
And women who died by similar means,
In Erie, in Albany, in Kings County,
In Warren, and in Wayne, finally,
Someone else can process a claim for me

 

 

About the Author: Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Local Train Magazine, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is trying to publish a novel.

 

Image Credit: “Thistle” L Prang & Co. (1886) The Library of Congress

 

 

L.B. Sedlacek: “The Moon’s Trees”

 

 

The Moon’s Trees

In 1971 Stuart Roosa orbited the moon
on Apollo 14 with some 400 seeds packed
away in his personal kit, orbiting too.

The seeds were: loblolly pine, redwood,
sweetgum, sycamore and douglas fir.
They were germinated back on earth

and planted all over the world.  
Some were planted beside
their earthbound counterparts.

After more than 20 years, there’s 
no discernible difference between 
the two classes of trees.

Some of the trees are no longer alive.
Roosa is buried in section 7A of
Arlington National Cemetery.

Even with the intricate machinery,
the trees didn’t like what the
moon is supposed to do.

 

About the Author: L.B. Sedlacek is an award winning poet and author with poetry and fiction appearing in many different journals and zines.  Her latest poetry books are “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars” (Alien Buddha Press), “The Architect of French Fries” (Presa Press) and “Words and Bones” (Finishing Line Press.)  She is a former Poetry Editor for “ESC! Magazine” and also co-hosted the podcast for the small press, “Coffee House to Go,” for several years.  She teaches poetry at local elementary and middle schools and publishes a free resource for poets, “The Poetry Market Ezine.”  In her free time, LB enjoys swimming, reading, and taking guitar lessons.

 

Image Credit: John Russell “The Face of the Moon” (1797) Public Domain

John Macker: “Last Riff for Chet”

 

Last Riff for Chet

Chet Baker used to bend over
his horn like the saddest, most suffering flower
speak into it like an echo does in dream
coaxing faded blossoms from the air
gathering them in breath to the place
on earth he felt closest to
trembling with shadows
then mutate their fragrances into a
civilization of invisible words as if
every spring, trigger-fingered
April’s bent their music to the ground
coaxing forth rose after rose
their powder-burned faces
bold, fragrant, strained, maverick
delivering echo after echo.

Chet sounded the blues,
riffed circles around the discordant rainbows
of romance in the dark until 
they drifted so close
you could pluck them like strings:
standing there streetlamp insouciant 
smoking the heroin gun of Paris
blowing interstellar lullabies
working his own myth into the 
hard ground
while I’m bent over this ancient
jukebox in the Lariat Bar
hit parade reduced to a row of square
buttons I punch into entropy.

At last, I find Chet as he empties a 
chamber of pure blue language
onto a white tablecloth
opens the window to each new bloom
with his lips
as he always has,
saying something pure to the earth
knowing no surrender is a cliché.
He had chiseled features.  
There’s a plaque for him in Amsterdam
outside the Hotel
Prins Hendrik at the last spot
he soared through life
on his way  
to the ground.

 

About the Author: John Macker’s latest books are Atlas of Wolves (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019) and The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away: Selected Poems 1983-2018 (Stubborn Mule Press, 2018 and a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.) Macker has lived in Northern New Mexico for 24 years.