William Doreski: “Remind Me What We Believe”

 

Remind Me What We Believe

Last night, rain bruised so deeply
I arose with handfuls of blood
as if I’d been finger-painting
in every ghastly autumn color.
You want to inspect the basement
for leaks and weeping, but the pumps

stand silent in their sump holes.
You remind me that years ago
I dedicated mornings to writing
the unwritable tale of my life,
but now I waste the smoky dawns
parsing otherworldly topics.

Once I thought I would shape myself
after a famous Cezanne still-life.
But now I resemble a brushstroke
rendered offhand by Franz Kline.
Doesn’t matter to the sopping world
adrift at the kitchen window. 

Doesn’t matter to the cat who died
last week after sitting in my lap
for three hours watching chipmunks
upholster their larders for winter.
I miss his smooth black contours
sculpted to cuddle against me.

The rain was his memorial.
You agree that his little spirit
likely danced the dark rain dance
all night as we lay in the filth
of the Anthropocene, a place
only nonbelievers would love.

Please remind me what we believe
before more rain billows over
places we though we understood—
wooden houses, low rounded hills,
and a tremble of apprehension
when gray lichened boulders crack.

 

About the Author: William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence. He has a blog at williamdoreski.blogspot.com.

 

Image Credit: Paul Cézanne “Rochers” Public Domain

Jeffrey Betcher: “Kezar Pavilion”

 

This is the third in a series of posts remembering the work of poet and activist Jeffrey Betcher (1960-2017)

Preface: Left “believing in the pack mentality of strays,” the poetry of Jeffrey Betcher speaks from the entire collective of American queer stray culture, that very lost-and-found narrative of reinvention on the docks of survival. These docks, being the green-heeled sanctuary of San Francisco from 1986-2016, these docks gave birth to an examination and liberation of meaning, as wildly honest and true-to-mirror as every queer breath weʼve danced. From this collection of Jeffrey Betcherʼs poems, “The Fucking Seasons, Selected Poems 1986 to 2016,” we hear the journeys into witness, touch the lips of knowing “love has been here. Hungry footsteps, breath released, and touch can change the land forever.” A San Franciscan born of rural Ohio, Jeffrey Betcherʼs poetry informs the landscape of nature, saying simply, “Iʼm a witness. Love has been here.”

– Toussaint St. Negritude,
Poet, bass clarinetist, composer

 

Kezar Pavilion

Built for the ghosts of Manifest Destiny at the
Edge of everything … land … days …
Illusion … is Kezar, barnacled when divinity
Stalled and spun to begin the work of an
American Century. From redwood and spunk and
Clay with solid plans, tradesmen
Square-walled confusion, roofed the games their
Children played, plied the fray of a
Westward dream with stitches of structure, then
Clapped red haunch-shaped clouds of
Terra-cotta dust from sturdy britches.

Kick the tires on Kezar today, and
Kezar might kick back. The dizziness of
Migrants whirling to the Pacific is ecstasy
Recalled by Roller Derby Bombers, pagans
Spiraling in winter and tween-teens lobbing
Hormones at hoops. And here and there are the
Undead offspring of Jerry Garcia who
Dig what is buried beneath Kezar’s hull, then
Conjure from the sidewalk what just might rise.

-January 2014, San Francisco

 

(C) 2017 Jeffrey L. Betcher Living Trust

 

About the Author: Jeffrey Betcher donned many hats over more than 30 years in San Francisco, yet maintained an integrity of purpose. A writer, an educator, an advocate for the prevention of violence against women and children, and a grassroots community organizer, he gained national attention as a leader in the “guerrilla gardening” movement, helping transform his crime-ridden street in the Bayview neighborhood into an urban oasis. His intimate poetry was also cultivated over the decades, exploring survival and engagement, and the labyrinth of the heart. Though he dodged the HIV bullet in the plague-torn years, a terminal bout of cancer cut his life short in 2017. In addition to his chapbook of Selected Poems (1986-2016), he completed an epic sonnet, Whistling Through, an odyssey into the cancer machine and death itself

 

More By Jeffrey Betcher:

Dear Allen Ginsberg

Billy Dew Meadow

 

Image Credit: Jet Lowe “DETAIL VIEW OF CABLE IN SAN FRANCISCO ANCHORAGE – San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, Spanning San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA” (1985) The Library of Congress

Jason Baldinger: “blind into leaving”

 

 

blind into leaving

I’m drinking beer
in a bourbon town again
the waitress raised eyebrows
suspicious, I lock eyes
on an alligator and a shark

the beltways of Kentucky
are kind, no stress, no trucks
no cops. set the cruise
just north of 80, miles
dissolve easy, still
if I dive into bourbon
now, I’ll be slobbering
in moments, there’s
somethings you can’t
drink away

guitar player works
Statesboro Blues
more Allmann than McTell
the sunset was rosewater
in the rearview tonight
I wanted to hold my breath

waitress wants to know
if I need another
I need an I.V
she sees it, tells me
these are good people

it took three tries
to get a room
the lobby was full bloom
Kentucky, every toilet
full of shit. the waitress
brings me a third
she’s been monitoring

I down it one magic swallow
broke down engine
guzzles gasoline
wizard guitarist is on
fingerstyle Sweet Leaf
I tip as I walk blind into leaving

 

About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was recently a Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community, and is founder and co-director of The Bridge Series. He has multiple books available including the soon to be released The Better Angels of our Nature (Kung Fu Treachery) and the split books The Ugly Side of the Lake with John Dorsey (Night Ballet Press) as well as Little Fires Hiding with James Benger (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.

 

More by Jason Baldinger:

“I forgot the earth and heaven”

“When Cancer Come to Evansville, Indiana”

 

Photo Credit: Jack Delano “Shipyard workers stop in for a “beer” after work. In a bar just outside the Bath Iron Works. Bath, Maine” (1940) The Library of Congress

John Dorsey: “Poem for Curtis Hayes”

 

Poem for Curtis Hayes

you say that everything we can see here
was once a strawberry field
& talk about a girl
who once had a baby in the bathroom
that now has a busted sink
as we sit beside your empty swimming pool 
sipping gin & tonics in the sun

the past is a young man’s game
its bones good & strong

runaway birds in our infancy
we all make strange sounds
that pass for stories

before we fly away.

 

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, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

 

More By John Dorsey

Creatures of Our Better Nature

The Mark Twain Speech

Punk Rock at 45

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Used bathtubs and sinks, on display and for sale, along a road between Oxford and Batesville in Lee County, Mississippi” (2016) The Library of Congress

Alex Z. Salinas: “Pen Dream”

 

 

Pen dream

I dreamt I was a silver pen strangled by
T.S. Eliot / caressed by Pablo Neruda / left
Alone by Philip Levine / dipped in salsa by
Juan Felipe Herrera / stuck between 
Terrance Hayes’ lips like his last cigarette 
For the night / not once did anyone’s hand 
Grip my body / slide it across fresh paper / 
Gwendolyn Brooks, mama bear and auntie
Of poets, was the only one who came downstairs 
And whispered a promise in my ear / suddenly 
The party ended / I woke with a huge headache /
Realized the throbbing was actually in my heart /
That I longed to be an object of desire and, resist
As I might / be smashed like dirt clung to my feet.

 

About the Author: Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He serves as poetry editor of the San Antonio Review. His debut feature-length book of poems, Warbles, will be released by Hekate Publishing in fall 2019.

 

More By Alex Z. Salinas:

The Great Thing About Driving With A Crack In Your Windshield

 

Image Credit: Diego Rivera “Young Man with a Fountain Pen” (1914) Public Domain

Martina Reisz Newberry: “Dietmar And I Talk Of Angels”

 

 

DIETMAR AND I TALK OF ANGELS

“Cherubim,” he said, “are your typical
angels–one set of wings–like people with
wings. Primary purpose? Delivering notes
from God to Creation and back again.”

He clenched his teeth and fists. “Now,” he said, “The
Seraphim are awesome, frightening. They
are tough. Picture your old Uncle Otto
(determination etched into his face)

with 6 pairs of wings and you’ve got it right.”
His eyes sparked and he lowered his voice to
a mutter. “Seraphim are indurate.
They are the bikers of the angel ranks.

They show their teeth and growl when they set down.
Some of them have spears and some have arrows
and some have stamped AK-47s.
Their bodies burn so hot you can barely

look at them straight on and you can’t touch them.”
I thought of old Uncle Otto whose face
sweated so much he carried several
handkerchiefs on his person (maybe six

of them like white angel wings), who swore so
much he was invited out on the porch
so the kids wouldn’t hear him, who ate horse
radish on his boiled eggs with beets, who had

a collection of silver dollars in
a locked box for just-in-case. He drove a
Lincoln Continental and kept a KA-
BAR knife in the glove compartment. We were

afraid of him. My mother said he had
a huge heart and that’s what finally killed him.
I wondered if an angel could be a
Cherubim and a Seraphim at the

same time. Like maybe if they wanted to
spy on each other or something. “Of course
they could,” said Dietmar. “Just depends on the
circumstances.” What circumstances, I

wanted to know. “Well, I think they might trade
places if the world blew up. Or maybe
if the Cherubim were being too soft
on sins. Something like that could get messy.”

 

About the Author: Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, Blues for French Roast with Chicory is due for publication from Deerbrook Editions in late fall, 2019. Her latest book is: Never Completely Awake (Available from Deerbrook Editions). Her work has been widely published in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Brian Newberry, a Media Creative.

 

More By Martina Reisz Newberry:

Venerating the Transitory

 

Image Credit: Master of Sir John Fastolf “Saint Francis” (1430-1440) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Cord Moreski: “Understudy”

.

Understudy 

Margery always loved theater.
In fact, she was an understudy
at the local playhouse on Clark Street.
From time to time, she’d fill in
as Kim MacAfee from Bye Bye Birdie,
or Sophie Sheridan from Mama Mia,
Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror
Picture Show, or the several other parts
she played for whenever she got the call.

At home, it was a different situation.
From day to day, she’d fill in
as the provider of the house by working
extra shifts waitressing after her mother
got lung cancer, and the keeper for her
five-year-old brother, Cade, who had
just learned how to write the alphabet
in his kindergarten class, the protagonist
to her drunk father who appeared
at her front door each night
despite his restraining order,
and the several other parts she mastered
at the ripe old age of twenty.

She always dreamed of some big break
that would get her out of this town
and into the lights and life of Manhattan.
But one day the cancer closed the curtain
on her mother, so Margery left
the understudy life behind
to take on a more permanent role.

.

About the Author: Cord Moreski is a writer from New Jersey. His work has been previously featured in Silver Birch Press, The Pangolin Review, Philosophical Idiot, The Rye Whiskey Review, In Between Hangovers, and several other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Shaking Hands with Time (Indigent Press, 2018) and is currently working on a new project for 2020. You can follow Cord here: https://www.cordmoreski.com

.

More by Cord Moreski: 

Aubrie

Someday

.

Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnson “Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina” (1936) The Library of Congress