Poems - Mitchel Montagna


Labor Day 

A veil of sun
shimmered on the lake;
a grove of pines
blurred in its wake.
Skinny girls teased  
with burnt-cork eyes,
smoking Camels and
getting high. 
Glare lifted like fog;
the heat bloomed,
like a spreading fire
through the afternoon.
Bleary-eyed dads
came off their chairs;
they staggered down
to the sunburned square.
Crushed by drink, 
they stomped and cried
their dirty oaths
at the steaming sky.
The girls felt glee;
they felt their best.
They disrobed to show
their mothers’ breasts –
splendid and raw –
for the dazzled men,
that pitiless day
at summer’s end.

Middle Age Folly

Lurching hole-eyed and numb, he wondered if talking might
   help. Maybe he could regain their respect that

way; he could show wisdom as the product of his experience.
   He rehearsed during wretched nights:  “Did you ever 

look into a mirror and see something lower than dog shit?”
   He gripped sheets as fever wrung him, sweat blistering  

his skin.  “I don’t mean that as a metaphor. I mean, really 
   lower than dog shit.”  But he understood that it was

useless to try and get their attention, all those smug bastards.  
   He needed to feel bigger, but he knew he was smaller.  

It was worse than those days in high school, when they  
   kicked his skinny little ass.  This was no way to finish, it 

should happen near the start: the agony that you fight through,
   and laugh about years later.   

Mitchel Montagna is a corporate communications writer for a large professional services firm. He has also worked as a radio news reporter and a special education teacher. His poetry has appeared in The Penwood Review, Naturewriting, Poetry Life and Times, and PEEKS and valleys. His fiction has appeared in Amarillo Bay. He is married and lives in New Jersey.

A New Thing In Another World: Poems - Billy Malanga

Wildcats In The Cave

I heard bickering coming from the basement,

about not wanting to go to school, about

responsibility, test scores, endless self doubt,

and the oncoming storm of eighteen.

Then, my wife’s battle scream from

the Neolithic edge of the cave.

A shriek so wild and prehistoric, it came

from deep inside her ancient warm bloodedness.

Mother and kitten marking pieces of territorial

highland and mother not backing down.

It made the dog whine and me spill my coffee.

It reminded me of our basic instinctual leftovers

that have lingered for thousands of years.

If she was going down into the dirt, she was giving

her the whole deal, eye to eye, ears back, and

flea claws out.

My wife roared that morning for the ultimate good

of the kitten. She left her biogenetic scent through

her claws like two steel smoking revolvers.

Hell, there was plenty of food in the den

but, this was bigger than habitation. This was

hardwired wildcat development that has carried us

out of Mongolian caves and across the snow

packed mountains by the neck.

It leaped from her sharp teeth and into the face

of humanity, downstairs where spiders and pipes

move things around.

Mother wildcat got things right with her kitten.

Raised By Wolves

There is a wolf at the base of my brain. Pausing, sniffing nose up,

picking things out of the remote sweltering landscape of ancient red rock

like a machine. It howls in the exposed barbed ether of cool dark gaps,

well arranged, spike toothed. It holds me.

Lupine phantom fangs grip my neck like a mother carries her young.

It walks inside a bloodshot abyss, under red cliffs, where it hides and licks

blood from behind my eyes. Its awareness extends beyond fur dark gray.

Sunrise is always most brilliant when it finds its way through red crevices.

I dream of bright yellow and green rays of soft light chasing me,

all the way down into the fractured running stream, where depraved

juniper tears my flesh.

Both of my hands circle and dot the sandy floor, where white water

once ran wild. Mad rocks plunge nearby, falling when they have had enough.

They slink and lay motionless below in fortified heaps. Blistering inflamed

dust dances with coiled devils. They can’t see or hear me.

I feel a clamping pain on my neck. Polished sharp incisors and soft fur

neatly tucked beneath a starched white collar. One generation teaches

the next. Up ahead, my invisible scars rest in a shaded gully where a lonely red winged black bird sings to my red wilderness.


I drifted inside myself on a dark Alabama trail

while my Vibram soles munched dead leaves,

an overlay to my pulsating framework.

It felt good. Then, I thought a stick smacked

the side of my leg but it was something else.

Two hypodermic needles from the roof

of your mouth punched holes in my leg.

No rattles or warning shots,

just eyeballs snapped wide open and voltage

running through my veins like wild horses.

I never saw the hit coming.

You pulled both triggers at once and doubled

the recoil. Your choice to go in wet instead of

bone dry was costly. I noticed a Mississippi Kite

with black under wings circling above.

Your slithering forked tongue gathered particles

of reality. Your level of readiness inspired me,

it was like you were savoring my red fear.

You were coiled and I was vulnerable,

standing at the edge of a shallow grave.

I knew you would slither back into the wild

pine to reload, you had a habit of doing that.

Antivenin sat cold and still on forty-five miles

of indifference. Numbness and sweat filtered

my opinions about the world. This was no place

for bumper stickers. This was my aporia.

Books and Books - Robert L. Martin

It was a sad day when William Blake shot himself in his library. When the police arrived at his home shortly after his wife called him, they found most of his books lying on the floor with some of the pages ripped out. His wife was standing near his body crying profusely while clutching his suicide note in her trembling hand. They wondered why such a renowned writer such as he would have even thought about killing himself. He seemed to have such a wonderful life. The homicide detective asked her what was written in the note, so she handed it over to him.

The note said, “I had too many books to read. They just sat on their shelves laughing at me while I tried my hardest to read as many as I could. Intelligence is that selfish patronizing world that always seems to keep its distance away from me. When I find myself finally grasping a new concept, it opens a new avenue to another that will also eventually keep its distance away. Revelations are like the sweetest fruit that is too high up on the tree to pick. All I could do was just imagine what the highest books on my shelf could have said without knowing what they did say.

I had to know at least the infallible truth that keeps avoiding me; the truth about the hereafter. I imagine it will be what intelligence doesn’t know. It only prides itself with life as it is in the present. I will finally catch up to it and surpass it. Unless I experience it, I will never know what it is.

Please forgive me, my sweet wife, for being so selfish, but I had to know the truth. Give my love to the children and ask them for my forgiveness. I left enough money for all of you to live comfortably on. I know I was extremely selfish, but I had to know. Your loving husband and father, William.”

Life after death will come in due time. That is one truth that one has to wait to find. Since life is just a fleeting moment in the age of eternity, William is only a fraction of that moment. Intelligence isn’t that selfish patronizing world, but a world of giving. It gladly avails itself to everyone. Books can only describe the hereafter, but cannot put you in it. Only time can do that. William had the desire but not the patience to find it.

Robert L. Martin's writings have appeared in Mature Years, Alive Now, Wilderness House Literary Journal, Mad Swirl, Poets Espresso, among others. He won two "Faith And Hope" awards, published two chapbooks, and appeared in four anthology books. He is also a pianist and the organist at First UMC of Wind Gap, PA. His favorite hobby is watching sports, especially the NY Giants football, and the movies, especially "Silver Linings Playbook."

Eating From an Imaginary Spoon: Poems - Allison Grayhurst

on your wave
of wet torment, licking
the moon of your lips,
cradling your breath in my mouth
as I held you submerged in my contracting core,
held you within as you were within
saturated with my pulse and flow.
I went under, planted
in the memories of your soul.
You swallowed our merging
with rapid speed. We evolved, stripped of every season,
you and I with our initials carved on each other’s skin, undulating
in our sensual, blessed commune.
Eating from an imaginary spoon
Sensual as clay laced
with warm water,
hard as a window
barred -
and still the seeds are thrown
though I don’t know why - there is
too much earth and almost no sun,
there are slimy ponds that beasts and fowls
eliminate in - spotted with dead-fish-eyes
and not at all like heaven
is suppose
to be.
There is a funeral in the fireplace but no one
connected enough to mourn the dead thing burning.
There are seven steps up and nine down, and indifferent
cruelty has murdered every other form of synchronicity -
I see four walls, but have only three;
I dream the supernatural and am faced
with pain in my teeth,
and on my hands, are wounds
that will not heal.
Under the willow tree I hide my mirror,
small enough to be mistaken for morning dew.
I look for a point of origin, something to explain how and why
we all must see it through.
Living With Myself
How many years before I arrive (guided as I am)
to the cliff, before I accept the fear, this view
as only a snake protecting my yard or as a way to keep me
ringing the bell? When was the last time a stranger
altered my octave, drove me, drum, drum
at the heels of some extreme belief?
This flesh is like oil paint that only sanding can clean.
My path is wanting.
I am with water, but no wave. I feel the water,
heavy as an avalanche,
soiled by so many fruitless beginnings.
But death will come, and the dust
that has already caked over my exuberance
will not be queen.
I will ride again unchanged, but this time
at sunrise, upon my beautiful horse, without
bridal and chain. I will regain mastery, pound at
the hot grass, at this constant edge -
relinquishing all.
I believe in the portion that
dies underground but lives
like a dream only in the
waking hour.
For me it gave the great request,
gave the last ring for my finger.
I wear the seed but never
the bloom. I am the false train
at the station. My blood bleeds
its impurities and runs
like floodwaters over the city.
For now, at a standstill.
For now, half-whole -
a miniature of all I was supposed to be.
In this place I must accept
or die so much before my time.
In this place where wonder
is not enough, but is
itself a blessing.
If I could wish the cat well, life
beside my father’s grave,
then as October nears
and the worms go underground,
I could bathe in my favourite season,
happy as I’ll every get,
change the rusty orange of my essence
and shed the density of summer.
If I could wish my children healed of their afflictions,
my husband, complete in his calling
and our empty cooking pot finally appeased,
then I could fall without shifting
the position of my bones,
I could be with a warm coat on, walking briskly
in a purifying seasonal breeze.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com

Five Poems - Thomas Piekarski

Common Ground
A delirious populous scurries to constitute their society
while the gods of tyranny riding white horses approach.
Mable made her daily bread from the cable TV recipes
she copied down most copiously in a top secret journal.
Made memorable by virtue of his soaring talent and wit
the TV personality become crack politician was broken.
They claimed we could become a nation united one day
if only we would take up mourning the souls of demons.
With a lump of expended coal suspended upon his palm
Fred swore he’d never said what he meant to say instead.
Of the budding plutocracy a philosopher enshrined shred
the documents he’d intended to produce from plutonium.
There was a protest when they rolled out the new policy
declaring that organic fact is to be subordinated by vice.
The shyster who schlepped oysters in Sheboygan bound
by his caveat that to get respect you must first dish it out.
On practically every street corner in Manhattan we heard
joy and laughter as they applauded formation of frontiers.

Tahoe in Snow
A winter of frequent steady blizzards
has spread its magnanimous gifts,
deposited megatons of fluffy white stuff,
shrouding the Sierra Nevada expanse.
Entrances to Yosemite shut, nonetheless
the road to Tahoe is all clear.
Today it isn’t snowing, more like
early spring, the sun ablaze, sky lapis,
air chilly and crisp. Down in the valley
cherry blossoms dot city blocks.
This historically stormy winter has filled
California reservoirs to the brim, and now
we’re awaiting the inevitable hike
in temperatures, eventual snowmelt,
and runoff that could well replenish
wanting aquifers, but will instead surge
down riveting streams and rivers, merge
with the Pacific, contributing to ocean rise.
The highway to Tahoe a steep ascent
riddled with serpentine switchbacks.
Placerville nestled at an elevation
of 3000 feet, too low for snow.
But once I’ve climbed to 6000 feet
and reach Strawberry Lodge
I get out and stretch, snow drifts
towering around me. I take in whiffs
of pines that tantalize, invested in
children as they sled down hillocks.
Upon arriving at the summit I pull over,
take a gander at the great Tahoe basin.
The lake appears a blue crystal pool
surrounded by monumental mountains
engulfed in snow. The state line is
invisible, entirely artificial. It exists
only for the purposes of mortal man.

Cogito Ego
Lying in a hammock beneath a yum-yum tree,
I watch rubber inner tubes fall like leaves,
and reflect upon what Waldo told me today:
he’s contracted a Beauty and the Beast complex
because the woman he’s in love with views him
as some kind of despicable werewolf, and wouldn’t
be caught alive or dead with him in public.
For me the only public enemy is the brother
I never had. Lacking a brother makes me feel
like the Lusitania reaching ocean bottom,
or perhaps a Japanese sub sunk decades ago.
People have a habit of taking me 180 degrees
the wrong way, which is to say illiterately;
they think I’m some penny-ante poltergeist
under the illusion that he’ll marry Tugboat Annie.
There once was a real-life Ann. She reigned as
the campus acid princess, loved her LSD.
She was mine for a while, but alas, I lost her.
She dumped me for a pimple-faced crackhead
who attested that they got married in a dream,
and by this means convinced her she was his.
So I’m compelled to admit I’m no Ricky Ricardo,
infamous womanizer. But that won’t bother me
because Ricardo was a narcissistic boozer, a fine
comic and keen businessman, but never faithful
to his loving wife Lucy, and unworthy of respect.
I lost respect for my pal Tad, who was at one time
a big shot in Silicon Valley. He used to own
a beautiful Winnebago, and a boat on Clear Lake.
But he blew his mind up doing lines of coke
in the toilet stall at El Torito. He lost his job,
and is now driving an ice cream truck in Detroit.
He plays “Here Comes the Sun” all day long
on the truck’s loudspeaker, while combing his
greasy jelly roll as he whistles with the music.
Undoubtedly I’m a little better off than Tad.
I’m sitting at the bus stop bench at the corner
of Franklin and Abrego in downtown Monterey.
The stop signal pulses, monotonous, maddening,
but I keep my cool. It’s gradually getting dark,
and lights to the TURN 12 bistro flicker on,
then those to the West Garage across the street.
The cityscape is packed with buildings, progress
being made. My mind has become a turnstile.
My thoughts spin round and round like a roulette
ball, wanting to land in a slot marked DalĂ­, return
to surrealist roots, life a shambles.

In an Orwellian sense the distance from here to nowhere
can be measured in light years. Stationed in present tense
the sphinx bends to compliance, integrates past and future
by way of a science through which it becomes nothingness.
Then the gold has run out, distanced itself from rationality,
for the populist czar brimming with unimaginable turpitude
makes his way pawing the crowd with holes in his pockets
through which the nation’s culture slips into fearful frenzy.
And yet none of the foregoing should rattle one’s feathers.
Lies don’t have wings. They fall like rocks, and eventually
cause an avalanche of dissent. The goods horded by misers
in ivory bowers we can’t see are most decidedly ephemeral.
Tweets get you nowhere. Love gets you everywhere. Thus
those shunted under the bus will rise up as one bold force
and cast asunder plundering pirates of freedom’s platitudes,
leaving little latitude to maneuver against pitted resistance.
Alternate reality he said he didn’t mean, but it was uttered
in such a powerful tone as to stultify our popular dynamics.
When shoes hit the ground and placards abound veins are
strained, and our rights ascend from the dark ocean floor.
It came scratching at my chamber door as I slumbered
he said in response to the question of why he was dead
set on embracing ideology contrary to established belief
perpetuated by public opinion and documented in blood.
Media the medium. Twinkle twinkle little periwinkle.
Barefoot in the kitchen her motto, she frying catfish in
a blue-hot skillet. We will resume construction today of
rights everyone unwittingly relinquished absent consent.
Missionaries emerge from the shadows of long absent
data. A man-child with IQ beyond your furthest reach
smirks as flash points sink. No-one wants to cave, not
you, not me nor the owl asleep in a palm tree at dawn.
The new administration is an old incarnation instituted
ages ago. The oxygen in the green room growing thin is
no excuse for substituting law for flawed anthropology.
What we see we paint, what we contest made obsolete.

Fear Itself
They say there’s nothing to fear, those initiators who whisper
in our ears through their nefarious media. We haven’t become
too totalitarian, they insist, and say it is no current menace.
They tell us war drums have been heard continuously all around
the world since the beginning, and here we still are. The oceans
of blood spilled on battlefields over useless ideologies weren’t
for naught, they preach, we’re better off than we’ve ever been.
And yet they would depose the very rights our fathers fought
and died for. They emulate Lenin in that their charity comes
in small packages, and cite Hemingway at the front lines
in France, set him as an example of what American guts was.
There is nothing to fear, we’re integrated now: at the park
a black dude tosses a football to the white girl and she in turn
to the Filipino guy. The Treaty of Versailles is the furthest thing
from their minds. This near the spot where a few years ago I saw
Lance Armstrong dump his bike while passing through town
competing in a marathon on a hot afternoon. He was maybe
too pumped on steroids and even a little dehydrated that day.

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly and Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry and interviews have appeared in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Florida English Journal, Cream City Review, Mandala Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Boston Poetry Magazine. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California (Gable & Gray), and Time Lines (Commentators Press), a book of poems.

New York Attitude: Poems - Amanda Tumminaro

The Stewardess
The time zones divide her in to portions
and she struts through the aisle like a vision.
Her sexuality is about to bust from her bra
and she is a typical American.
She reads Vogue and Allure
and dabs her face with the suspension of a compact.
Beauty can be pulled together like a bridge,
but it can fall apart with an eye on the floor.
She's a genuine heartbreaker -
she'll eat it with her broken bread.
She's got her men in a rolodex -
When in Rome, right?
Gay Art
I find your sexuality erotic.
The grinding of males can be found in local, gay porn theatres
and in the shadows two males are gymnasts.
How pleasurable can the taboo be
under the mask of the anonymous.
The screen is their mentor for outdated “crimes”.
They vandalize one another in their bottoms
and in their faces
and this injustice is sex in full bloom.
Can you climb the highest frenzy?
They are modeled after the French.
In all cases of love, they are modeled after the French.
New York Attitude
I'm sick to death of TV ads
telling me to cope, like they're some sort of priest.
I could meet head-on with the porcelain
about college commercials and self-improvement books,
or scare tactics in the medical village.
I'm piloting my own plane
and you are a passenger to my opinions
because I'm not planning to shed my pounds like fleece
or run a brush through my hair.
Who are you any way, Mussolini?
You can piss all over yourself
like some cross-eyed baby
because your thoughts are only invisible words.
Take the subway to The Bronx
and see if you don't end up with egg on your face.

Amanda Tumminaro lives in the U.S. Her poetry has appeared in Cottonwood, Spoon River Poetry Review and Freshwater, among others. She is currently working on her first poetry chapbook.