Monday, September 30, 2019

Horace Pippin, Holy Mountain IV by Michael Begnal

Horace Pippin, Holy Mountain IV (unfinished, 1946)


The mountain in two shades
of grey, looming, its rim cracked
volcanitectonically against
a sky of de-emphasized
at its foot,
a strip of desert
tan and then the
foreground stratum:
the arid ground of
denuded green
and the ghosts of three animals—
lion  /  mountain lion  /  wolf  /
hollow revenant outlines,

the tree black, bare,
its perspective
spectrically outsized,
dangles no noose,
only prophecy

Michael Begnal is the author of Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), as well as the chapbook The Muddy Banks (Ghost City Press, 2016). His work has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Notre Dame Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Empty Mirror, Scoundrel Time, and Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). He can be found online at and on Twitter @Michael_Begnal.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Procedure by Olchar E. Lindsann

“hread which has run through Western Civilization itself, an Exquisite Corpse made of many different parts of volumes, redacted and edi”
            -Edward Morris, “The Theatre and its Double” 

“een created to drain abscesses coll”
            -Antonin Artaud, “The Theatre and its Double”

                        when athwart the boil
            mad in tires, toil, seethe
occluded heed eht, rain cadavers
                        et cause the crops to grow
            jaundiced, dust-diseased, myopic
hooded or a plinth of splintered finger ,nails
                        splayed like a trunk of gut
,immersed in suture: so the corncobs seep
wreathing rutting in eht summers gnastaw groove.
            drained or fire flame the pages
sail came in pustule spasm lake;
a froth of text synthetic eardrum monitors, glued ,et proves
                        dans fluff convulsive in a
                        mothball turn the page ,you
fling miasma in the breathe off death ,you
                        next atop the skull-silk
:so bite chiasmus in concise abysses
;wring fluted wingnuts from entarecht lung;
            ;apprised of the sopping fruitfly ,rage
            et neither sung nor missing jaw
            contract, in hacking eloquence–ô
puffed comme the maggot of a marshmallow
            the moons' disjointed orisons
                        ,tar in the placent maw.

Olchar E. Lindsann has published over 40 books of literature, theory, translation, and avant-garde history including The Ecstatic NerveToward a Radical Historiography, and most recently volume 3 of the ongoing epic Arthur Dies on Luna Bisonte. His poems have appeared in OtolithsLost & Found TimesBrave New Word, and elsewhere, and he has performed and lectured extensively in the US and the United Kingdom. He is the editor of mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press, whose catalog includes over 100 print publications of the contemporary and historical avant-garde, and of the periodicals RêvenanceThe in-Appropriated Press, and Synapse.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Two Poems by Ric Carfagna


Shadow of the crow
at mid-day
or depth
of a sea
that is unfathomed
by touch
like tides receding
from a dying body
or a view
from a room
whose windows
glaze with frost
by night’s descent
and here
there are ghosts
that wander
endless corridors
devoid of the breath
of penitence
and the heart
of retribution
whose bones
are the hollow instruments
of shamanic dances
whose flesh is ash
blown by cyclonic winds
whose limbs
cannot feel
cellular constellations
gestating in weightless
cosmic sentience
and whose eyes
cannot see
a fog encroaching
at the sea’s edge
or the shadow
of the crow
into humanity’s dream

85 (suite no.9)
…aspects of illusion…


Your shadow
crosses the wall
and in a room beyond
voices of lives
inanimate objects
breathed into life
flourishes of sun
grazing the sill
and out a window
a garden
an iris
bent by the wind


And your words
have returned
with the centrifugal force
of electrons in motion
with the passion of flames
arisen from embers
to the silence of ashes
blowing across
a furrowed ground


And this light
in your eye
has not differentiated
day from night
the dead from the living
of the unceasing flow
of blood in the veins
or the primordial timbre
of the embryo’s heart


This mirror before you
is without substance
is without form
a diffuse array
of atoms
hovering as in an illusion
cast through an open doorway
a bleak eidolon
portending a fate
seared on the pages
of an arcane manuscript
lost in a rising riptide surge


And does a formal synthesis exist
returned to here
to the density of assimilation
to the current moment
passing as a fatuous impression
in a cubist collage
rendered as a three dimensional frame
or as one word
without resonance
a depth lost
behind clouded eyelids
and the iron-reality sky
that lies above
all substance and spirit form
all matter gestating in pain
all sense of the unreachable
echoing as fate
ending existence
in shadow and disillusion

Ric Carfagna was born and educated in Boston Massachusetts.
He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently:
Symphonies Nos. 5,& 9 published by White Sky Books-

His poetry has evolved from the early radical experiments of his first two books, Confluential Trajectories and Porchcat Nadir, to the unsettling existential mosaics of his multi-book project
Notes On NonExistence.
Ric lives in rural central Massachusetts with his wife,
cellist Mary Carfagna and daughters, Emilia and Aria.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Three Poems by Roxana L. Cazan

Writing About (Your) Illness Is Like

watching the snow hurl itself onto
the cold concrete pavement,
a long lag between touchdown
and melting point, each flake
heavy as rock,
the fall accompanied by sound,
your body stuck in the inertia of lay.
“Mami,” I said, walking into your room,
the door etched in red like a fire was burning inside,
and found upon the bed the sheets swaddling
each limb, each cell having given up motion
with a stench, the layers
upon layers of baby cloth,
training pads,
disposable diapers,
washcloths hanging to dry
unfolding their rancid
smell into the space
where your breath
is tied to the glance
in the same direction.
And when I saw the body of my mother’s
mother dying, I called you, “Mami,”
roped into the place
like a flower cut on the edge of music,
your moans, the cries “help” or “I’m cold”
as if this illness that pilfered your little bones
might retreat in tidal sway
splitting the body open,
unravelling what no possible warning
could have prevented,
that fall,
the freeze,
that explosion of burgundy in the brain,
as if a door opened into a fire,
the skin paralyzed in goosebumps,
flaking despite all the moisturizing.
But then this shapeshifter room
kept you hostage,
trapped in your memories
that returned over and over
like a meat patty in frying oil,
gliding along the scaffolding of
and I walked out, still whispering your name,
knowing that life is nothing but the distance
between home and cradle,
this cradle, the grave,
spilling hurt every each way.

Falling into the Quiet, She Churns
after Kitra Cahana’s Still Man

“At my age,” my grandmother used to say,
“I am cinched by the certainty
that everything and everyone
is always already in motion,”
and I think of that sweet conviction
holding it tightly into knots on her tongue
this moment, as I sit
by her hospital bed,
hovering my palm over her lips
for reassurance that her breath
still flies swiftly like ancient bees.
The stroke churns her memory
into ambiguous fragments—
the war like a river spilling into
the young meadow,
the Russian’s cold gun
barrel lingering across her thigh—
& in a while, takes away all her words,
so in his tight bed, she looks unraveled
like a newborn,
a young moth whose weak wings
shake inchoate with the new air.
Tethered by catheters and tubes,
my grandmother dreams about all history,
the depth and the squeals,
the black bulk, the nearness,
the toppled boats,
her baby boy drowning in a barrel,
the yard wide like a ghost’s mouth
years before I became me,
all the village drinking in the last minutes,
the sun sinking to the bottom of that barrel
next to my grandmother’s stilled heart.
When I fix her pillow or pull up
a limp corner of her blanket,
I almost hear her breath sound,
as if to say, “I’m all right,” 
& despite my pain,
this world, full of hurt as it is,
unfolds clearly before my eyes,
like a clean sheet hung across a window,
its silence sealing the room gray.
This illness spreads over her body slowly,
closing down every capillary intent,
the pain, the broken minutes,
but I know that all drama,
all grief and death and strain
mean something strong enough
to make it hard to let go.

Last Fragment  

Yes, you are still singing to me
into this new year of long silences
and many slept hours,

first in the bungalow by the sea,
next in this terrible room,
where doctors’ sneer and rhinoceros drift by.

You should have warned me that the walls
would be so white,
all the walls humming,

the window blind,
this hospital
growing darkness in Petri dishes.

Minutes waste away their percussive music,
and I am wide awake, willing sad birds
into the mud sky, outside, where things still
grow anomalies.

Whisper to me my prayers,
make my fists listen,

the leaning of time into walls like tall
coat hangers,

the tingling smell
of chlorine,
a nurse’s white gloved fingers fumbling
with a catheter strip.

I see the sorrow hanging over your face—
an ugly moment.

Why are you here?

Roxana L. Cazan is an Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Saint Francis University, PA, where she teaches world and postcolonial literature and creative writing. Most recently, her poems appeared in Connecticut River Review, Construction Magazine, Cold Creek Review, The Healing Muse, Adanna Literary Journal, Watershed Review, Allegro Poetry, the Peeking Cat Anthology, and others. She is the author of a poetry book, The Accident of Birth (Main Street Rag, 2017).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Two Poems by D.C. Wojciech


the way the light houses are guarded by memory.
to love what is now set a fire inside yrself &
kiss the dead buds falling from a tree of shadows.

no coincidence the two hands of prayer point up.
the way we learned to live by visitation hours.

the words will have to be cut from a stronger metal.
fled into a mist of becoming:

the story of original sin is all spectacle in a recession.
I remember when we first thought the stars had fallen
for good & walked on egg shells for twelve summers.

rebuilding the city with water & wine.
beyond the corner store where the world is sugar & salt.
beyond sky scrapers & temples of commerce.

cracks in the sidewalk spelling out either polarity of ascent.

why the sun is full of blood—
resuscitating empty gardens.                
leaking clues across yr search lights.

or is it the fistful of black marigolds asleep in the mind
emanating all that cannot be taken from you—

The Illusion of Stillness

the hounds of silence invade the cell walls
of my laughing sunflower.
their hungry ghosts create the facade
between what is known & unknown.

some who saw through their own eyes.
the day we woke up & everything was a wind instrument.

when the congregation decided to be unborn again.
every book at the library on keeping gardens was deemed lost or stolen.

the illusion of stillness falls
like an urn from the mantle of time.
from present to past.
all those hours running off yr watch.

who will have the last laugh
, the eyes turned inward
or the battering ram

anywhere you can tell the difference between seeing & looking.

spell it out if you have to.
the only downside to window shopping.

the muse has taken an oath to let the headlines die today.

& not vice versa: let time tell you—
dreaming is self-preservation.

D.C. Wojciech is from Northern California. He edits Silver Pinion. Selected work can be found online at

Monday, September 16, 2019

Two Poems by Stephen Mead

The Driven

Wipers, the windscreen, voice-
less but
the syncopation, tribal----
Something is drumming,
depositing its bond, name-
less, a weatherscape-----
Hands, paws, hooves, fins…
each not a mimicry just
functions air and terra firma
swish with the sluice work of.
No wonder
I love
the geography of bodies,
our squabbles never eternal
Could life die due to a mood?
The wheeling, galactic axis
pivots on waiting
for global recognition-----
We     You     Me
are one as grass, stars & fish,
all incapable of really being
each other but
glimpsed still perhaps
where arcs pass
& expand

Voices Off

Dreams are the genius of a secret tongue
in the incoherency of sleep.  Every
body needs this and perhaps that other thing
some still believe in and call the spirit.
Flesh and bone, animate that!
Note the sense of wonder which comes
from sparrows in shrubs of parking lots.
What worlds they create amid the tossed
bottle caps and passing traffic's miasma.
What else is felt from the peripheral,
that not-quite oblivious mind's eye corner
keeping proximity in check
with enough distance to bluff:
do not touch?
Oh, go for it.
It might not always be painful or dangerous
despite what genetic defense says to survive.
So the self opens for larger selves in the world
and suddenly more than one of them too.
Here quietness dances in tandem
with the acknowledgement
of what also may be bountiful amid
every ongoing variety of tragedy.
Take that
cemetery where picnic blankets
are smorgasbord-spread and extra plates set
for the absent that are back, celebratory
with pinwheels spinning, fresh English ivy,
wild violets planted galore.
It is some sort of pageant
even those solitary skeletons tossed adrift as
forgotten, unloved to begin with
may be moved by through the rocky earth's
opposite tenderness
when turned over as silt.
Shovel, hoe, pick-axe
excavate the invisible kites dreamt about
from every slumbering grave
gone from nightmares to untroubled skies,
stars, suns, endless at last.

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he's been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one placePoetry on the Line, Stephen Mead -- For links to his other media (and even merchandise) please feel free to Google Stephen Mead Art.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Three Poems by Janelle Cordero

you’re looking at a picture of you

say you’re looking at a picture of you with a group of other people who / do you look at first yourself or / the other people say / you’re a parent and you have a picture of
your child who / do you look at first your child or the you within / your child
maybe / god looks at us in the same way trying to see / only himself /

many types of wildflowers

i believe in my religion the same way i believe / in all religions like a child trying / to make sense of the many types of wildflowers in a field and deciding / they are all
the same because / they are all alive /

the phone book

the phone book used to be validation for our existence are you / listed we would ask
each other and the unlisted / were like ghosts we couldn’t understand why anyone /
wouldn’t want their name and their number alongside all / those other names and
numbers can we have meaning / beyond our connection to others here’s the real /
question if we leave no evidence of ourselves is the world / better for it /

Janelle Cordero is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in the seventh most hipster city in the U.S. Both her writing and her paintings are sparse narratives that emphasize the disconnected nature of the human condition. Her writing has been published in dozens of literary journals, including Harpur Palate and The Louisville Review, while her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her debut poetry collection, Two Cups of Tomatoes, was published in 2015, and her chapbook with Black Sand Press was published in 2018. Her newest chapbook with Bottlecap Press was published in January of 2019. Stay connected with Janelle’s work at

Monday, September 9, 2019

Three Poems by Bobbi Lurie

how to be old an old lady old

detach yourself
and learn
how to die

Locution Fulfills Highroad

You, zombie jealous drifter, made-in-house, you, taker of dreams refused too at the time, losing self on lower emotions but you, little one, stealer of the throne, lying faculty of early learning curves. I mean he stole it all, and obviously wins, you hawker, you lumberjack, you sorceress, you highroad loophole autobahn made distant by belonging to, you cruel and evil heart, name covered over with veneer, a patent-leather loophole on the autobahn made distant, cruel heart.

thought deprives itself of feeling all of my gestures proved false

wake to pain-time between meds isn’t growing longer as planned-the pain’s so bad-waking nightmarish living dream take pain meds and wait-can’t compose a narrative of my life without it sounding like complaint-all the maneuvers to get through a day-reframe what you’re facing by not speaking it in words-a thought deprives itself of pure feeling-it longs to be identified with

first day off gapapentin-angry tirades on television sets turned on throughout the hospital crippled wheelchairs amputees hopeless television sets talk election results or some other fleeting news report on the way to yet another doctor-i, always polite, seemingly hopeful, sicken myself for what I’m turning into, being in this body, in this mind, standing in melodramatic landscapes

talking heads television set says need for pain meds something other than round the clock can i function at all today must lay down can’t lay down it hurts too much yes to life say they of positive attitudes so sick of the “they””their” neutral voice of knowing it all prescriptions for happy ever afters which never happen in the grave bugs eat after the “they” buries you there

Bobbi Lurie is the author of “The Book I Never Read,””Letter from the Lawn,””Grief Suite,” and “the morphine poems.” @BobbiLurie