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Concrete Meat Press recommends the following poets:

 

 
A D Winans

 

WOMAN ON THE BALCONY

 

I see her two

three times a week

sitting on the balcony

when weather permits

here in old Italy town

in what is left of North Beach

her robe slightly parted

thumbing through the pages of a book

taking no notice of the people down below

 

standing to stretch, she yawns

legs like sturdy pillars that stretch

to reach the sky into the boundaries

of my mind

my eyes begging to read the pages

she turns with sensual fingers

wanting just one quick look

one intimate journey into the pages

into the space between the

parting of her robe

a journey to forbidden places

a flight back in time

to another place another world

high on a balcony where

I too ignore the

people coming and going

down below

 

(First published by BARNWOOD PRESS)

 

DIGITAL AGE

 

I told you not to take a snapshot

I don’t photograph well

But you did nevertheless

And sent it to me by means of attachment

And there it was on the screen

In black and white the only colors that matter

And it split into two parts on the screen

Neither of them doing me justice

An injustice I am sure not intended

This faceless face staring back at me

Smashed into a thousand lines

This snapshot more like an empty face

Stuffed away in a shoebox

In the far corner of a closet

Like a series of quick winks lost

In cyber space

 

(Previously published in RATTLESNAKE)

 

 

Justin Barrett

 

LIKE FIREWORKS 

poems

are best when

they are

over

 

when the only

thing left

are their ghostly

tendrils

hanging in

the darkness

 

waiting to be

illuminated by the next

crack of light

 

 

A GOOD MORNING

when i woke

up this morning

i saw

your head on my

chest

 

your leg draped

over mine

 

and three arms

 

of which

at least one

was mine

 

 

Ronald Baatz

 

SOMETIMES I AM A HAPPY POET


Sometimes i am a happy poet.
Sometimes in my heart a lost and homeless bum.

Sometimes i can see my life as a clear, beautiful
crystal-cold stream, and at other times as
a distorted circle of foul-smelling mud.

Sometimes the joy of my life is unmistakable
and overwhelming, and at other times it is
the sadness and disappointment of a life
unlived and wasted, dark and empty.

Sometimes there is the love of family,
the warmth of friends, the embrace
of a passionate woman.
Sometimes there is nothing
but anxiety and fear and loneliness.

Sometimes there is God.
Sometimes not.

Sometimes i want to live forever.
Sometimes the thought of another day
is intolerable.

Sometimes i wake refreshed from dreams.
Sometimes i wake terrified from what i've seen.

Sometimes there are birds.
Sometimes not a wing
is left in the world.


 
THOUGHTS ON A SNOWY AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY


I watch a woman walking her dog at the park.
I'm sure i have never seen her here before.
It could be this is the first time she has visited
this park, or perhaps she has been here at times
when i was not. No doubt i appear a stranger
to her too. Perhaps to her i look as though i live
in some other town, and i was just out for a drive
and in my travels just wandered upon this park.
She doesn't know i come here daily to watch
trees blossoming in fog, women in bathing suits
down by the lake, men fishing through ice, leaves
beautifully rotting. But since i am a stranger
i'm sure she has few thoughts about me, if any.
The only reason i am thinking about her is because
i'm sitting in front of this blank page and i need
something to write on these endless blue lines.
I'm tired of writing haiku about birds. I picture her
home with her dog. I suspect she is not married
and she sleeps with it. I see the dog patiently
sitting by the side of the bathtub as she soaks herself.
I see her nipples floating on the water, slightly hidden
by soap bubbles. Her nipples have a warm familiarity
to me. Could it be the case that in a another life
i was her dog, and that i stopped living that life
only yesterday and at that point started living this life.
I am not on any kind of drug, it's just that it's freezing out
and i am sitting in this car with the engine idling
and i am writing on this piece of paper and so there must be
these thoughts. Yes, there must be these thoughts
or tomorrow i might return to being her dog all over again.
If i have these thoughts i will remain this person in this life
and, well, at least tomorrow i won't be out there in the cold
on a leash shitting in the snow.

 

Owen Roberts

 

2006

no more resolutions

this year

 

better to be disappointed

from the start

 

then wait awhile

 

 

MIRROR IN THE BATHROOM

 

because of the drugs

I stopped looking in mirrors,

this lasted for over 7 years

 

ashamed

 

today; clean and sober

I turned on the bathroom light

and just stared at myself...

 

turns out I wasn’t missing much after all

 

 
Christopher Cunningham
 
 
LAST MEAL OF THE NIGHT
 
he looks at me with red eyes
thru thick round glasses,
heavy black frames slipping forward
on his human nose.
 
it is two minutes until closing.
 
I tell him,
“go ahead man, what do you need?”
 
the kitchen grumbles, I can feel
anger washing against my neck
in hot tired waves.
he mercifully orders the
easiest thing on the menu.
 
his will be our last meal of the night.
 
the cook is fast, throws it
to me and I bag it up.
 
he reaches out to take it
and asks me my name.
I tell him.
 
he then reaches out to shake my hand.
 
“I know you are trying to close
but I really needed this food.
my brother is up the street at the university
and he is probably
going to die
tonight.”
 
he is still holding my hand and I can see his eyes,
the space beyond his eyes, shielded sort of by
the thick lenses,
grow wider, but not very much.
 
“thank you for your kindness.”
he drops my hand and is gone.
 
the hunger we cannot stand to bear alone,
but must.
 
 
 
(Previously published in LAST MEAL OF THE NIGHT – RESTAURANT POEMS - Blue Monk Press) 
 
 
 
THIN TONES OF MARCH
 
we got high
in the front seat of the
car with the heater running
and the
rain coming down slow.
we’d grabbed to-go burritos
and chips
and they were in the back seat
smelling good.
we drank our coffee
and the windows fogged
and we smoked and
listened to the world out there,
the horns, the car doors slamming,
the bass from stereos booming, shaking the pavement
where the water pooled.
the
gas gauge sat at
empty,
but we had some money left
and didn’t care.
 
we got high
then
went home and ate the to-go mexican.
 
the rain didn’t last long.
sometimes,
 
it doesn’t.
 
 
(Previously published in HAZMAT REVIEW)

 

 

Karl Koweski

 

ARCHITECTS
 
we talk straight lines
and angles creating
personality blueprints
to be unrolled and surveyed
during lulls in construction
searching for structural flaws
before we inhabit each other
 
(Previously published in CAN’T KILL A MAN BORN TO HANG - Bottle of Smoke Press)
 
 
 
CORNCOB
 
my wife often asks,
especially after reading
one of my pornographic
stories, how much
truthfully occurred
how much of “me” is in it
 
I’m tempted to relate
the anecdote concerning
the same question posed
to William Faulkner
by a casting director
in regards to his
novel Sanctuary
 
Faulkner’s answer –
“Madame, I am the corncob”
 
of course, my wife
doesn’t even know
who Faulkner is
and...
I’ve never actually
read Sanctuary
 
(Previously published in CAN’T KILL A MAN BORN TO HANG - Bottle of Smoke Press)
 
 
 

Glenn Cooper

 

REAL MEN

the men who’ve been coming

to Nino’s bookstore to install our

new reverse-cycle air conditioning,

are real men:

 

they wear ball caps, smell of cigarettes,

swear like wharfies, traipse mud

through the store without

giving it a second thought.

 

oozing testosterone, these men

talk in deep baritones, play football

on weekends, have compliant wives

& girlfriends (usually pregnant)

& are confident always

in everything they do & say.

 

they are the men

all young Australian boys

are taught to grow up to be.

 

but you know what? they still can’t

get the damn air conditioning to work.

 

 

 WAY OUT BEYOND

 

i have fallen out of your

sure and steady orbit,

i know i have.

 

i can tell

by the way i float so

aimlessly, drift

through the days without

meaningful direction.

 

and it's cold out here, so cold.

 

the newspapers today

tell me that scientists have

discovered a new planet

in our solar system,

way out beyond Pluto.

 

it's easy to believe.

 

 

K M Dersley

 

THE WIDE WORLD

 

comparing prices we decided

we didn’t have three grand

for a home cinema

but a digital projector we got from eBay

has revolutionized our viewing instead

 

I never knew Clint Eastwood

had so many freckles

and we practically felt

we were up there sharing the same saddle

as Eric Fleming.

 

it’s funny but you can now clearly tell

where his horse’s turds

and those of other nags

have been scraped up from the prairie.

 

nor did I know before this that Tarzan

swung from such flimsy vines

or that the jungle floor was so far down.

 

as for route 66

apart from the car sickness it’s

a marvellous open air education

in monochrome.

 

Tranmere Grove is linked after all

to Sunset Boulevard.

 

we’d certainly journey into that screen

to stay and have a life

if we could only find out

how to make the projector

feed itself.

 

 

CRITERION

 

last night as I was about to leave off

I found out Les the driver

used to clean Woolworth’s back in

the ’70s for good old Criterion

Cleaning Contractors.

 

who woulda thought Les

was one of Ted Chalkley’s alumni?

 

I said do you remember Peter?

 

tall bloke? said Les.

 

no, says I, short guy with glasses.

his dad died of psoriasis.

 

oh yeah, says Les, I know Peter--

used to push the scrubbing machine!

 

we started chinning about 

the old days, when Sid Mills’

putt-putt bike got stolen and

abandoned at Diss.

 

the days of Cyril with the pink shirt

who put in a full day at Reavell’s

then worked at Woolworth’s at night

to pay for his

car.

 

great days, said Les

 

great days? I thought to myself

… seems to me I was scared stiff

in those days

 

even then I only wanted to get paid

and go home.

 

while my first floors that I’d mopped

were still wet

at the very same time my first poems

were about to get paid a few quid

from Samphire

 

(is it any wonder I dreamed up a life

that never developed?)

 

funny, but I’d never have known

Les’s background

if I hadn’t come out

with an old Woolworth’s remark

when he saw how many boxes

they expected him to load up:

I quoted Sid Mills: 

 

WHAT IS NOT DONE

WILL BE LEFT.

 

 

David Barker

 

SCATTERED

the van is
in the shop
and
the dog is
in the kennel
and the black
berries are on
the vine and
my mom is in
eternity, but
her ashes are in
the bay and
her family is
on the boat.
 
[Previously published by Bottle of Smoke Press]
 
 
 
SPOOKED
 
they say this
tavern is haunted,
but, you know,
sitting here, an
old poet among
all these
younger people,
I am probably
the most
haunted thing
around.
 
[Previously published by Bottle of Smoke Press]
 
 
 

Keith Gery

 

Die young

The family reunions happened
every year in the summer heat,
in a glade with no plumbing
and a shack with a refrigerator..

Memories were dusted off about
the ones who were gone,
the smiles and the tears,
the good times and the bad,
amid charred hot dogs, cool beer,
and quoits and softball.

Today in the summer heat,
there was another family reunion
of a private nature
as I dusted off headstones,
while thinking of
the ones who were gone,
and the hot dogs,
and the quoits,
and the beer.

As the last one left,
I don't care to know why.
I guess the good ones
really do die young.

(To be published in DEATH LASTS WAY TOO LONG TO WASTE YOUR WHOLE LIFE DYING - Water Row Press)

 

Tissues

She was crying.
I held the phone tighter
wishing I could hold her
as she sobbed.
She left me years ago
for the arms of another man.
And now things
were not well
in paradise.

While she spoke,
I heard the sound of tissues
wiping her eyes
and her nose,
vainly trying to remove
the debris of her sadness.
She left for awhile
to get another tissue,
and then continued the story.

I comforted her as best as I could,
knowing she'd run back to him
when the sun shone again.
And with her tears
running down my face,
I knew I'd only be used
to get her through
this darkness,
and then discarded

like her soiled tissues.

(To be published in DEATH LASTS WAY TOO LONG TO WASTE YOUR WHOLE LIFE DYING - Water Row Press)

 

Hosho McCreesh

 

& There Is Triumph As The Matador
Hoists High The Severed Ear-  
But Not For Him Or
Any Of Us...


it is the bull who has won,
though it doesn't
seem
so-

    dead & leaking,
    the sun
    slanting through the
    dusty, trampled
    afternoon.

It has been carelessly
added
to the comical &
rotting
pile of it
all,
this
earth-

-but added
without the
tedious &
customary

compromise.



They're Feeding The Pigeons In Venice,
& Someone In Amsterdam, In Paris
Is Standing In Front Of A
Van Gogh
Weeping...


because they understand it,
they understand that there's just
not much
grace
left,
understand that almost everywhere
there is an inescapable ugliness
& that the soul grows tired of its shell,
of being told not to scream
when all it wants to do is
sing, sing of this
miraculous frail misfit
that surrounds it, this
miraculous frail misfit
that stumbles through
hours & decades & drunken midnights,
loveless, wallowing, begging condolence like
scuffed pennies.

We should be sick of desperation,
sick of stagnation, of lifelessness, joylessness,
sick of all that is left to plague & pitter,
all those content to just
dangle about like
spiders & cheap
earrings.

Amidst all we push around & carry,
all we imagine & invent,
all we kill ourselves to garner,
this remains
the only
crux:

    There, once again,
    begins the
    snow-

    -though the
    clean
    living
    through it
    is
    all.

(Previously published in FIRE)

 

Luis C. Berriozabal

 

IN THE HOUSE OF THE BUTTERFLIES

In the house of the butterflies

Death arrives

The cadaver opens its mouth

Threads of blood

Spring out like a red-colored

Rainbow

 

Gold feathered birds disappear

In between

The fire, smoke, and dust left by death's

Thin hand

The indigenous writings

Destroyed

 

The beautiful flowers appropriated

By death

The walls stained blood red,

The hair and

Feet of the Indians, pulled

And burnt

 

Only their song survives amongst

The ruins

The stones keep the memory of

The dead

The ones that planted the seeds in these

Confiscated fields

 

 (From RAW MATERIALS – Pygmy Forest Press)

 

IN THE GREEN ONION FIELDS

In the green onion fields

Children too poor to go to school

Get their education

Work under the sun

Dirt on their faces

Dirt in their fingernails

Dirt on their clothes

The schooling is harsh

Their wages are low

The employer gets rich

Sends his kids to private school

Clean clothes, new shoes

Clean faces, clean fingernails

Take every diced onion

Out of their scrambled eggs

 

(From RAW MATERIALS – Pygmy Forest Press)

 

John Dorsey

 

 LIBRARY FINES

dressed as  ghosts
our fines   paid in
karma the  book of
the dead  checked out after
each of  us were
reborn as  spirit animals
is
   overdue
 
we break  bread spend
our lives   talking about
death singing   his folksong
to an   unchained melody
and call   it prayer
once in  pittsburgh i
wrote a  poem about
                    sunset
 
i was  a child
ghost blowing  a kiss
to a   blackhole beaming
smalltown pride  that was  
death checking  his watch
for
    miracles

 

THE HOLY MISSION OF RUSSELL VIDRICK

 
drunk on words i
walk down the street
thinking russ doesn't look
like much of a
knight not even in
the style of don
quixote it's raining while
he tightly holds on
to bree's library card
as if it were
the holy grail more
intent on purpose than
crusade he has a
lost sad look in
his eyes once they
dreamt of proust james
joyce wonka bars with
golden tickets 1960's surf
music and steamy nights
turned to
noir
 
peering up at the
sky you can just
tell he is looking
for the words to
find himself again as
if they were written
in the
stars
 
 

Don Winter

 

SONG FOR SOMEONE GONE AWAY

 

You have seen those who’ve begun

to ghost their lives. You see them hunched

in grocery lines or on the bus.

They have grins lost somewhere

 

in the folds of their tweed

faces, with fences of their teeth

broken and leaning. They have no

pocket charms against their

 

oblivion and they

are not going to cry about it.

Maybe they have invited

sadness as a shield against

 

despair. Like old dogs they

hobble home, push and pull the sheets,

knead and scrape until the have them right,

then drop down and breath out

deeply.

 

(Previously published in ARSENIC LOBSTER)

 

 

THE TACOMA TAVERN

 

is drunk with rain.

And our tables are careless

with empty bottles, cigarette ash.

And we run our fevers

up over a hundred

arm wrestling our motorcycle buddies,

drinking pitchers on one breath

for a dollar. And we try to drink enough

to lose our names.

And we make up stories to fit

the bad things, by turns hero and victim.

And the waitress acts vaguely in love

with each man. And the need for touch

is a razor-toting, cuss-tongued bad ass.

And the best sex rises from vacancies:

divorces, failed jobs, incarcerations.

And the closing time door flings open

like a warrant.

And the land tears away from us

and slides off the horizons.

 

 

(Previously published in PLAINSONGS)

 

 

Kenneth Hickey

 

WILD CAMPING

Woke with a hammer head ache,

in my father’s camper van,

at the centre of Listowel’s large square.

Arc eye itching.

 

Turned my head away,

listened to the Kerry rain’s

pitter patter

on the cold tin roof.

No sign of cats.

 

My mother’s voice

saying she wakes up tired.

And knew what she meant.

Neck sore from where I forgot the pillow,

Remembering the sleeping bag was hard enough.

My nadir almost complete.

 

The chemical toilet worked hard

with three adults reviving to the grey morning.

Dreamt of us as Ovid’s slaves,

Beloved,

and wished the world away.

A wild camping recluse.

 

Skipped breakfast and headed for Tralee,

The rain rushing to meet me from the reeks.

 

MARMALADE

The little kitten we got together

Free ads in the evening paper,

Every tumbling Tuesday,

Is lame limping.

 

Not eating her expensive gourmet cat food,

The half water, half milk mix untasted.

Weaning can be a bitch.

The vaccination alone was thirty quid.

 

Must have leapt blind

from too high a height.

Fell.

Damaged.

Taken too much of a risk.

The heady days,

Early rushing round rooms rapid,

A memory.

 

So now the coldness between us

sits on an animal’s shoulders.

Marmalade’s demise an omen maybe,

For more pressing,

Disquieting,

Mishaps.

 

 

Bradley Mason Hamlin

 

TIME IS ONLY TICKING CAUSE YOU TELL IT TOO 

Sometimes

you

are trapped

within

the poem

 

maybe

you want

to write

another novel

 

go ski drunk

on white hills of powder

that look like cocaine nirvana

or make your cavegirl have

a cave scratching orgasm

right now …

 

but the gods

only

give you

this.

 

 ZEN IN THE ART OF JAZZ

Drinking

Jack Daniels

straight from glass

to lips

no water or ice to crack

the flavor

and I must admit

I am in love

with this American whiskey

not bourbon

a purity …

only found between the legs

of your lover

if you really love her

and in the hands

and heart

of a lone jazz musician

in the embrace

of

instrument.

 

 

Henry Denander

 

7 AM AT THE ZEUS HOTEL

Because of a long swim in the sun yesterday and

a three-hour long siesta in the afternoon, I wake up

before 7 AM this morning.

 

I sneak out of the room and take a table at the front

of the hotel, overlooking the beach. No one else is

around, no guests, only Paris Theodorakidis and

his dog Astero.

 

Paris gets me a cup of coffee and Astero leans her

head on my leg. The small city of Tolo starts to

wake up, there are deliveries of Loutraki water,

fish, fruit and vegetables. Some early swimmers

are heading down to the beach.

 

After a while Paris gives me an omelet and some

bread.

 

I have my notebook and the book on Mycenae, I

drink coffee, pat the dog and write some stuff in

my notebook.

 

Stuff like this.

 

 (Previously published in WEEKS LIKE THIS - Bottle of Smoke Press)

 

THE SALMON IN THE SKY AND HOW EVERYTHING HAPPENED

No one died but a few people were injured and it was

a miracle that it didn’t end in a disaster since Stockholm was

     filled with hundreds of thousands of people. It was

The Water Festival and there were crowds of people

     everywhere; on bridges, on the islands and

          all over the city.

 

Strangely enough, someone‘s brainless idea of showing the

newest Swedish fighter jet and flying it over Stockholm had

          somehow been approved.

 

I stayed at home since I hated the crowds but when I heard

     the loud noise from the plane’s engine I walked out on the

balcony and saw a very impressive JAS 32 fly over

          our house.

 

Then when the plane disappeared over the roofs of the

     houses on the other side of the street suddenly

 

everything turned quiet. When I looked up I glimpsed

 

the plane turning up towards the sky and after the

 

     engine stopped everything was so quiet, as though

 

the whole city had just stopped and everyone was waiting

 

              for the plane to crash.

 

It was more than ten years ago and the feeling of someone

          just turning off the sound of the city,

 

     and the plane in the sky,

 

like a small salmon in a rushing water, showing it’s belly

 

          and struggling in the sun,

 

                            that’s what I remember.

 

(Previously published in WEEKS LIKE THIS - Bottle of Smoke Press)

 

 

James Quinton

 

FLAMES

hypnotic

wisps of

orange

dance in

the air

 

slivers

of

heat rising

on the

wind

 

hands

held out

 

the dark

of the night

dissolves

 

my eyes

transfixed

 

my thoughts

wander

 

as I

watch

the

flames

 

DEAD EYES AND SNATCHES

claustrophobic

tiny

space

 

lowered ceiling

dim

lights

wall to

wall

shelving

 

hard not

to feel

penned in

 

traffic

goes by

vibrating

the counter

as patrons

of the

porn shop

peruse

the products

after

lumbering

through the

door

with their

heads

down

 

dead eyes

and snatches

surround

 

 

Michael Curran

 

GETTING THERE

The can in relief lettering

is this for the blind

I thought

Blind drunk. ha ha.

 

On the floor a leaflet 10p a day can save a child

from poverty

10p

nothing

but I do nothing about

it feel the letters

in my hand

 a third beer

a fourth

some kind of countdown

 

No child to question it

therefore a child-like acceptance

on my part

not asking

pleading

not begging

heeding

heeding towards the gates

of Hell. ha ha.

 

I laugh and drink to some

small fortune that

cannot see

 

(Previously published in BUILDING THE QUOINS - Tangerine Press)

 

APERITIF

Stirred again?

Who knows.

 

Brainwashed?

Maybe.

 

In love?

Possibly.

 

Kidding yourself?

Likely.

 

(Previously published in BUILDING THE QUOINS - Tangerine Press)

 

Robert L. Penick

 

RESCUE

I look up and it's Victor Woo

shambling down the steps

of Sissy's Liquor Store

like a badly drawn cartoon.

He's holding a twelve-pack of

horse piss in bottles and

grinning like the devil

owes him a favour.

 

When he sees me his eyes light up

like Christmas miracles and

he calls "Bop-Bee" in a

magnificent baritone.

I realize what it is to have

friends in this stormy world and

I wave back like a castaway.

Tonight we will celebrate.

 

(Previously published in NERVE COWBOY)

 

COME

I am thinking of you now.

 

I am thinking of your flesh

between my thumb and forefinger.

The way you gasp when I squeeze

my hand shut a certain way.

I'm thinking of your face

wrapped in brown hair

watching me or the ceiling.

Waiting for the moment

when the trigger pulls

in your brain and

you break free

of this world.

 

(Previously published in SULPHER RIVER LITERARY REVIEW)