Tuesday, August 16, 2016

poems by Natalie Crick

Sunday School

Madeline loves it
And sits as Mother would.
The priest is like her Father
Dressed all in grey,

Palms fluttering with
Paper clowns,
Legs and arms spinning anti-clockwise
Like the priest's eyes slide

From side to side.
We are his for an hour
But he cannot touch us,
For we are jewels to be watched,

And, one day taken.
Nobody has ever held his hand
But Grandmother, with rings like
Little girl's warnings.

Alfonso Colasuonno

You used to be a librarian
At Brooklyn Public and NYPL
You live on Avenue M and Ocean
And you got robbed
But it was your fault, really
You probably shouldn't have kept the door open
Even if it is a Jewish neighborhood
And you like this place
But there are better places around
But you like to come out here
Cause you used to live around here
And you are heading off soon
To go to the library
To borrow a Victor Borge tape
Oh, you know him
What's that you said?
I'm sorry, I can't hear you
New Yorkers hate when I ask them to repeat themselves
You said you watched him when you were eight
At your aunt's on Nostrand
Terrible thing, he escaped from Denmark
Funny, but such an odd sense of humor
Just like my cousin
Also a comedian
I think the library still has his
What do you call them?
Yes, records.

If I listen closely
I think I can discern
The death rattles
of Old Brooklyn
Over here, in this little idyll
Where American flags still fly
In front of detached one families
The sprinklers turning on and off
Soaking well-manicured lawns
I can hear the pangs
In the abandoned synagogue
Shuttered pizzeria
And proceeding out of
The mouth of the old drunk
That one with the faint brogue
Leaning against the door
Of Mickey Reilly's bar
Who Colleen serving up the Guinness
Tells me has to call a cab nightly
To take him to his home
on Schenectady Avenue
To rejoin his dog, old
His wife, old
His son, grown, around on the holidays
His TV, on, the news, Letterman
I can see the decay
In the lines on the forehead
Of the fiftysomething Jew
Double parked on East 51st
Waterfalls playing on his tape deck
The model 1994 too
I can feel it wither
In the hands of the old Italian
Ashing his cigarette
By the swings in Power Playground
Hands that once kneaded dough
For the best pizzeria
On all of Avenue N
Before he sold it to the Albanians
Who in time will sell it to the Mexicans
And they still dance in their best suits
Over at the American Legion
And Greekie still serves
The eggs and toast just right at George's
But the last yachts off the Paerdegat
Will all sail off in their sunset
On their way to Jersey shores
The sons of displaced migrants
From Cork, Naples, and Riga
Displacing themselves yet again.

I’m becoming more and more like him every day
The babyface won’t last forever
And my fuse is shorter now
I’m turning into a foreign man of foreign ways
And I’ve withdrawn for the most part
I’m prone to joy
And prone to rage, just like him
I guess I’m an immigrant too
I’ve journeyed to some queer land
Where the people are odd
We’re all strange though, in his mind
Their ways aren’t my ways
But I won’t look back
He never did
I don’t incline my head in the direction of the old country
That’s just a memory to me
Just old Polaroids that have grown yellow and frayed
Still, the displacement rattles my bones
I wonder how it affects him
We all must have known it at some point
Even the wife’s Congregationalist forebears, centuries ago
I can understand them
And I can understand him
I found a new nation here
And I’ve made sure to try to blend in
I don’t speak - my accent marks me
I have my own enclave, just like him
I talk when I’m there, with my people
I tell stories about the pop of a Spaldeen off a broomstick,
Summers playing in the stream of a Johnny pump,
And how the August sun melted the chocolate cones from Joe B’s truck
I always make it sound better than it really was
I’m sure they’ll understand me out here
Just like they understand him back there
I wave, greet them with a friendly “hello”
And they don’t walk on by
It’s on 322 -
Take a left,
A right,
And place your foot gently on the brake.

He calls out,
stenciled on a Chinese immigrant’s tee shirt,
at a strip mall,
in a town off I-80,
and I sit down to a meal of white rice,
wonton soup,
chicken and broccoli,
and those little crunchy noodle things,
a fortune cookie,
Sprite instead of oolong tea,
this ain’t fine dining,
a rest stop off I-80,
that stencil on a Chinese immigrant’s tee shirt,
I bow my head,
take a breath,

eat and drink.

I am the co-founder and Poetry Editor of Beautiful / Losers Magazine ( My fiction and poetry have been published in Zygote in My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, Citizens for Decent Literature, ppigpenn, Gutter Eloquence, Horror Sleaze Trash, Dead Snakes, Yellow Mama, Quail Bell Magazine, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Rusty Truck, Pink Litter, The Galway Review, Record Magazine, Soul Fountain, Randomly Accessed Poetics, Winamop, Visceral Uterus, Fuck Art Let's Dance, O Sweet Flowery Roses, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Milo Review, Postcard Shorts, and Farther Stars Than These. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Beloit College, where I learned under esteemed poet Bei Dao. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Donal Mahoney

A Man and a Dog

A reporter asked Wilbur once
if there were any advantages
to being deaf and Wilbur

used sign language to say
not that he could think of
except you miss all the gossip

and that’s a good thing
if you live alone in a trailer camp
in a small town in Oklahoma

but it’s not a good thing
when a tornado comes through
and everyone else hears it

at midnight and gets out alive
but they forget to wake you
and you go up with the tornado 

along with a dog 
you can’t hear barking,
two small stars in the sky.

Donal Mahoney

As Wally Explained on the Locked Side Later

Another day at the zoo and 
Wally’s new job was to feed the apes. 
Old Stanley had fed the apes 
for 40 years and loved the job 
but told Wally he was retiring.
He was showing Wally the ropes when 
Wally got hit with a coconut 
lobbed by JuJu, the oldest ape, 
who liked Stanley but not Wally.

Stanley drove Wally to a dentist 
to check the damage to his teeth
but the dentist wanted to be paid 
in advance and Wally had
no money, only a bus pass 
and a bag lunch back in his locker.
He had never had a credit card. 

The dentist looked and sounded
like Mel Brooks and kept saying
he wanted his money before drilling. 
Wally’s father came to the office
and started writing a big check 
to the plumber who had come over
the previous week to fix the toilet.

Bleeding from the mouth Wally yelled,
“Dad, write the check to Mel Brooks, 
not the plumber," but his father said,
“Wally, shut up for a change" and he
kept writing the check to the plumber.
His father had been dead for 30 years
but he and Wally never got along well  
when his father was alive either.

Donal Mahoney

Answer Me This, America

Took the wife 
to a pancake house
the other day. 
National franchise
good food 
fine reputation.

Skipped the pancakes
had bacon, eggs,
hash browns, toast
and coffee.
Wife went fancy,
had an omelette.

Grabbed the check
because the busboy 
started clearing 
the table early.
A young dervish
new to the job
swirling his cloth
for minimum wage.

Bothered me 
to realize he'work
three hours and a skosh
to pay for the same 
breakfast, more
if he left a tip.

Reminded me 
something’s wrong
with our great nation,
how we do business.
Have both ears open.
Hoping for an answer.

Donal Mahoney

Marimba in the Afternoon

Raul is a kind man
who plays marimba
in a salsa band at LA clubs
late into the night.

Some afternoons he plays 
at a nursing home in Cucamonga 
where he was born, grew up
and dashed home from school.

He’s paid with a taco,
maybe an enchilada,
a burrito now and then. 
On Sunday a fresh tamale

almost as good as his mother
used to make after being in  
the fields all day, long ago.
Old-timers in the day room 

bounce in their chairs, some 
on wheels, to Raul's music.
Long ago they were young 
and danced all night in

tiny clubs after being paid 
a few dollars a basket for 
picking grapes and plums 
under pounding sun.

Donal Mahoney

Fly Fishing

Many years ago Miriam’s parents 
took the kids for the weekend 
while she and Jack motored north 
to fish for trout in Montana 
at Miriam's request. 

Unsteady in her hip-waders 
but casting with abandon,
Miriam lobbed a snide remark 
and the hook snagged Jack's ear.

Jack told her not to worry
just a tiny bit of blood.
He'd put a band-aid on it 
back at the cabin
before he fried 
the rainbow trout still
wriggling in her creel.

Decades later Jack is back
at the cabin with his Phyllis,
a quiet woman who
has never cast for trout.  
He thinks she’ll do well.

Jack’s lost track of Miriam,
who sold the house long ago.
The kids are on their own.
He still scratches the ear 
where an itch recalls 
Miriam’s remark.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

poems by , John Grey

John Grey


She calls her mother daily,
lips taut, teeth cracked open slightly,
her speech restricted
to only the most mundane of sounds.

Meanwhile, her mother pulls on
her daughter's words
like hands round rope
in a tug-of-war.
She wants the truth to come pouring out
along with the small talk,
break through these unnatural barricades.

But what's on the daughter's mind is too dense.
It can't be wrenched from her head
without taking half of her brain with it.
So her mother's futile entreaties
sweat and ache, grow callouses.

But she'll telephone again tomorrow
and then the day after that.
She has this urge to sa)' little
and hold back much.
Her mother feels a duty
to nibble at the ordinary
while imagining the worst.

It's a ritual that fills a need.
Mostly, it's the need of the ritual.


You were drawn to the chaos,
borne around bends,
through thin, dangerous channels
or brandished above me
over trees, rooftops,
your crazy grease-stained wheels
farther and farther below,
your dying like flying across the sky.

Watching the stars,
I want to separate you
from how I feel,
awed by your untamable,
unimaginable speeds
before ice played a role,
and slid you on like water
racing for the downspout -

the grave that knew
it was only a matter of time.


DOWNWARD DAN                                    

A drunken brawl
that he can hardly remember
and Dan had lost half his front teeth,
found himself sprawled on a sidewalk
in Dover, Delaware,
spitting blood and molar,
a burning throb in his jaw
as if someone had connected
with a flaming arrow.

A cop came by,
thumped Dan's wayward mouth
into a smile.
Dan reckoned it was tough,
from that angle
to tell what the joke was all about.
All he could think about
was his busted face.
how long it would be
before even the ugliest of women
found it to be kissable again.

He never did locate a dentist
who would work for nothing
or a fancy lady friend who could see past
his sunken cheeks.
But there was always liquor.
It never asked for
what he wasn't prepared to give.
His gums could testify to that.

There were more brawls,
more sidewalks,
more cops
but. at least,
he never lost another tooth.
One night, a homeless woman
offered him a place to sleep
under her bridge.
And she had a bottle of rotgut
which she shared.
That's how low Dan's sunk
since we hung with him back in the day.
He eats out of dumpsters.
He panhandles.
Whatever money he comes by
goes straight to the liquor store.
Soon, his insides will go the way of his canines
and without need of an intermediary
like a punch to the gut.

Dan's the one we all consult
if we want to know more about
a downward spiral.
And his run-ins with cops
are our dispirited lecture
on the true meaning of the law.
He's also a good example
of the tipping point
when alcohol becomes booze.
And he and his toothless bride
are a willing case
of what it takes sometimes
to be with somebody.

How many years is it
since we were all in high school together?
We knew Dan before he was an illustration.