Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Among the Common

By Pamela R. Cone

When you hear warning signs and still keep walking the results are
equivalent to stumbling into a snow storm. Your only reason is what you
have been searching for has suddenly appeared on the other side of the
hill. These sightings are rare. You have come to realize you weren't meant
to walk among the common. You don’t exactly blend in no matter the
intellectual composition of the crowd. Your last attempt was an affair held
in some place you wouldn't normally frequent. You introduced yourself but
your name didn't sound familiar in their pitches. And their tongues seemed
to cling to the roof of their mouths like that of liars. This is why you
are searching for this aberration reported by those consecrated to the
same. Your allegiance to one another is tighter than the secret hand shakes
other members of various clubs salute one another with. Armed with a flash
light, you hope you won't return still common.


We all are but men. The wicked man preys on the common. The ignorant man
who stands head bowed holding his hat in shame. The shame of being hungry
and powerless. His faith in a creator to lift up his formation. The father
to even the bastard. To him, his soul sits high, his words silver flowing
from his tongue. But the vile man's lips are his own. He refuses to exalt
another. He stands high at every corner. With bloody hands he professes
himself. He too is but a man.


The street was crowded with people headed all in the same direction. Moving
as if an alarm had sounded warning them of the end of time. They marched
like slow stepping soldiers headed for certain death with their eyes
looking straight ahead. No one was directing them; but they all were
responding to the same voice shouting orders over the intercom in their
mind. In the background haunting music played providing them their rhythm.
Their destination seemed un-mark able and their passage incessant.


Riding on the street car, the passing streets are untitled. They're
intertwined like a spool of yarn finally unraveling at the intersection of
town where the homeless woman searches for her lost life buried in her
rubble. Her face is exposed. But her identity is found on the stamped
passport she keeps strapped to her waist telling of places she once roamed.
The sidewalk will roll up at dusk--both tired of the feet that has tread on
them all day. Their assigned position in life, it seems, is to scurry for
the crumbs that fall from the table, to answer when called, to not curse
when their mouths taste of bile.

Pamela R. Cone is an interior designer and writer residing in Dayton, Ohio.  She has been published in The Clarion Review and on her blog, Sometimes I Talk to Myself.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two poems from Charles Freeland

Editor's Note: The following poems are excerpted from Charles Freeland's chapbook, Eulalie & Squid, forthcoming from Chippens in June.

Detached from the Aggregate

The silver seems to have been handed out by those who think Squid too reclusive. A man who doesn’t understand his obligations to the park system. And the volunteers who patrol its borders. They have been reduced by quarantine and apathy. Turned into specters by the things they’ve seen. Tumblers lying about, cracked and empty. Leaves stamped with the spindly trails of mold growth. Or other otherworldly materials. Pretending to belong to this one. Squid has a lesson at twelve and another in the morning. But suspects he has already covered those chapters and will just be wasting his time. Besides, Eulalie won’t give him credit for being somewhere crucial. For creating a part of his life that doesn’t resemble all the others. She thinks him shackled to the wasp’s nest. Straining away at the scent of alder. But that doesn’t mean she’ll just wave her hand and dismiss the project. He knows through hard experience she will take copious notes. And try to make him believe something he doesn’t actually believe. Eulalie is tricky that way. She is constantly turning over on the floor. Peering up at him as if she has just come to the most sinister realization. And she is waiting for the right moment to inform him of it. To pronounce it in short, clipped syllables.
          I think Squid probably should have bought Eulalie the fish tank. He should have pushed it into the corner with a dolly. Rather than just expecting the winds to take care of things. They are almost always arriving just a minute too late. Disturbing sheets of paper. Carrying with them the sound of people trying to do the right thing. It is a sound that tends to be mistaken by the uninitiated for that of someone drowning. So far off shore there is little help, I suppose, available. Though not so far as to fail to register altogether.

As the Total of the One is to the Total of the Other

Someone’s going the wrong way. It’s inevitable. The sooner we accept that the bargain is not really a bargain at all, but a decoy, the sooner we can get back to the tales that nearly always begin in Bulgaria. We can grab up whatever celery is on the plate along the way. Just as if we won’t know what the climax sounds like without such assistance. Without the ladders threatening to fall over at the slightest provocation. Eulalie throws innuendo over her shoulder like salt. And the fact that Squid does not lunge ought to buy him some respect among those who knew him when he was a boy. Who thought he would never find himself in this situation. The sedan stuffed to the roof with steam trunks and cans of albacore tuna. The radio tuned to whatever doesn’t have any tympanis in it. This should tell us all we need to know. And if it doesn’t, if we are still searching beneath the mattress deep into the following morning, that doesn’t mean we are disabled in some crucial way. It just means we will not be given a place on the life raft, should matters come to that. Should the oceans start spilling over the sides of their containers. And running through the streets like domestic animals loose from their trailers. She finds his silence suspicious. The kind of thing that one wraps the body up in just when the body has become most vulnerable. When it is most likely to succumb to scrutiny. The heat of the Idaho sun. And if she is going to position herself correctly, she knows she must first determine where Squid will be at any given moment. Next to the rollaway bed. On top of the statue of himself that was erected secretly, in the middle of the night, downtown. And when the reporters came to ask him about it, to all but accuse him of arranging the project himself, he scoffed in a voice that left little doubt of his guilt. But no one could put a finger on exactly why. Sure, there was the timbre of it. Weak and watery. The sort of thing one expects to hear from the tailpipe of a Buick. Or the mechanism of the pen when you are just about to sign your name. But you hesitate for a moment because you’re not quite clear which line is the correct line. And which is liable to get you sent to the cabin in the piney woods. From which, it is rumored, no one ever comes back again. Where they ply you with soda crackers and fragments from the illiterate poets of Greece. Until you can no longer remember exactly why you turned your back on the old life. Why you lampooned it so cruelly in the pages of the phonebook.
          But just try figuring it out without the assistance of the woman you love! Try scratching at the bricks on your own. It won’t be but a matter of weeks before you are slinking back, defeated, into the corner of the garage. Hunting up the gas cans for one final inhalation.

Charles Freeland lives in Dayton, Ohio. His books, e-books and chapbooks include Through the Funeral Mountains on a Burro (forthcoming from Otoliths), Grubb (BlazeVOX books), Furiant, Not Polka (Moria), and The Case of the Danish King Halfdene (Mudlark). His website is The Fossil Record and his blog is Spring Cleaning in the Labyrinth of the Continuum.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two poems from Adam Henry Carrière

Editor's Note: The following poems are excerpted from Adam Henry Carrière's premiere chapbook, Zigeunertänze, forthcoming from Chippens in May 2009.

sinistrose, morosite
(dismalness, gloom)

Mon amitie est vive encor, malgre l'absence. Hate-toi!
My friendship is warm still, despite absence. Hurry!

                                        — Guilliaume Apollinaire

Small pretty statistic, what's the use?
A person's gloom is their birthright.

When I left for the glowing pink neon,
you were shed, a mirror image
spilt over colorless sand.

But, like old cobblestones, you still smile,
hiding the affectionate beach in the mortar below.

You have no reason to sero-fancy and forget-cell;
Feel the atlas of your remaining
body the way I once did,

Put up, put out ... out

the stiff upper lip sewn into the quilt,
tripping up your one-step on the way in.

Do not swallow the pharmacist's pleasant
jingle; build the home away from home
sweet homo we naïvely wrote of
in puppy-loved Valentines
illuminated by medicinal torches
now lining our hands.

Your bodily breakdown, dismalness bathed
in light, dines with us in Thanksgiving,
this hospice meal.

I am your last, best friend:

    No matter the blueprint of the coming
    lull, your voyage is mine,
    our antibody leaves fall together.

The dialect of our Magyar and Saxon eyes,


full of unlived yet permanently minor life,
almost deliriously lurks
behind the Hapsburgs' many great facades.

Its gloom burnishes the epitaph
haggard pilgrims shamble toward

Queer Quadrille

Tell me, how many of them would deliver themselves up deliberately to perdition (as He Himself says in that book) rather than go on living secretly debased in their own eyes?

                                        — Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes

Aloof, Voltaire would advise looking for someone less
like a character in a book; Goethe agrees, adding,
'A little less re-writable, please, or less so than I.'
Genet shouts, 'I want a boyfriend!'
With an anxious nod, Forester peeks open
his journal, noting “He can look like this:
Bare, often, warm in the dark, soft to the touch."
Myakovsky growls, 'Zapadniks!' and seizes a quill,
scrawling, "Short, sweet-smelling hair, fingers to glide
over the ice of my heart, nipples for my erect tongue to caress."
Isherwood raises a gloved hand. 'What about, "Lips
tight over closed eyes picturing him, an out-of-fashion movie
unnoticed by the Society page." Hm?' Fugard claps politely.
Greene sneers perfidiously. 'Veneration doesn't propel boys
into refuge. The wind does. "Let the West Country breeze
hide with him in my soul." Or something like that.'
Hiding under the buffet, Kundera tosses a note
onto Schiller's lap. The German reads it skeptically:
"A near-perfect banquet that isn't a black grave."
La Rochefoucault pours more wine.
Da Ponte and Schikaneder carouse duetically.
Williams scurries out through the back door.
Mishima takes his bread. Goddard scribbles up the tablecloth:
Captured in silver dust, framed in gold, the boy makes the man one.
Stone drunk, Fitzgerald approves; Gertrude and Zelda demur.
Tchaikovsky begins a seventh symphony on the spot,
but cannot decide what to call it.
Balzac, smelling of cognac, proves no help.
Marlowe begins to bicker with DeVere.
Yevtushenko wins a drinking contest with a bitter Hemingway
and takes the floor. 'A man's love is voluminous!
Glorious! Victorious!' Brodsky cheers ostentatiously.
Seeing Mandelstam hasn't yet arrived, they both weep.

Winner of the Nevada Arts Council’s Fellowship in Poetry, Adam Henry Carrière publishes Danse Macabre, Nevada’s first online literary magazine. He lives in Las Vegas.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Three poems from Felino Soriano

Painters’ Exhalations 91

                        —after John Coyne’s Flight in Green

Because the ocean
to mirrors on waves’
tabletop function
an unknown causation
stating sense dangles from the tongue
-caused interpretations,
proclaims sans standing philosophical

flight can deem itself contained by framed borders
man refuses to dislodge. This though
    does not
the winged from acrobatics atop air’s angled,
unbounded stage

as day of emergency transforms psyches into
lost and winded animals

catapulted among their foreign reactions.

Painters’ Exhalations 93

                        —after Elsa Dax’s The Night

Night constructs nest
mosaic ingredients softened mirror
for owl rest subsequent hunt,
feed, meander between itchy bark.
Stars incorporate flickered pause
saluting scientists attempting
ascertaining distance
relative to a pebble future from
man’s grabbing hand. Navy
pocket square president’s fold
sky’s tailored blazer. Music
becomes a multiplying flesh:
wind, mythical ambiance, goddesses
announce in retribution, decrees
not a whim among the ruling
giving surnames to stars’ orphaned

Painters’ Exhalations 94

                        —after Joe Machine’s Sailor at Rest

Sustained water life, stilled on
sea’s obese spectrum

authors insanity in an etching scrape
across altered pining psyche. Misinterpreted

tranquil blue slaps the unaware, predetermined
fallacy placed in soil of gullible beliefs,

the ignoramous. Rest from the dance of waves

the mopping of decks aware of their reeking

Cliché sailor posing, respite on a bar’s hardened stool.

Head submerged, thoughts the drowning hands
grasping at answers found floating amid
inebriation. Snake

tattoo slithers in overhead light, the rare light
alive atop existence’s manifested

Felino Soriano is a case manager working with developmentally and physically disabled adults in California. He is the editor of the online journal, Counterexample Poetics, which focuses on International interpretations of experimental poetry, art, and photography.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Two poems from Ray Succre

This is the Spark

Early by a dawner's clock,
with sleep to come where sleep should end,
I am bound all licked by a pastime become time thief.

If I reach your trickling alarm without shut eyes,
in that you rouse and find mine red,
as I sit and bloody my head with the ever-leaping story
of a character in a game on a screen,
fetch me from this pleasurable invention.

Start with profanity, or call on guilt, use nudity or bacon.
Up all night, I'll haven't a care; turn it off or take over—
only fetch me and send me on.

In a Pit of White

The cold year banked in less-lit December,
stumbled past, wings straining and indignantly spread,
straight into the snow—all it could do to stop.
Of all the things it could have spun anew,
thought to mention in passing over to next year,
this year chose to impart nothing but frozen children,
back from the white and stuck for long spans
in an un-sunned, wishful house.

Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and son. He has been published in Aesthetica, BlazeVOX, and Pank, as well as in numerous others across as many countries. His novel Tatterdemalion (Cauliay) was recently released in print and is available most places. A second novel, Amphisbaena, is forthcoming in summer 2009. He tries hard.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two poems from Felino Soriano

Painters’ Exhalations 90

                        —after Ella Guru’s Congregation

Staring into a body felt
by the unseen eyes. The listening

discerning pebbles placed atop lake
tongues, swallowed, —this is a talent

multitude hiding often in wrinkled fabric
the mind cannot mend until

light threads altered connotations. They a smiling

to the jazz inheritance full-swing method
riding the trumpet solo

away into imagination’s various homes
forming bodies with fingers

snapping echoes available for lengthy

musical interpretation. Wine glasses sipped dead.

Absence here means nothing

as in a crowd of anger, the sole smiling
forced to cower

within corners of malevolent confinement.

Painters’ Exhalations 92

                         —after Susan Constanse’s In the Aftermath

In the aftermath
absence curls its shadowless
monuments around the pupils
too aware of conscious perception.
             Chairs lined
criminal profiles with messenger
witnesses too afraid to sit
or compose facial feature
       Bodies reside here
only by name tiptoeing memory

   façade panels
             the weakened room

for the dead to reborn selves

after dust dissipates
tabula rasa

to conception ensuing saddened death,
mother pounding questions.

Felino Soriano is a case manager working with developmentally and physically disabled adults in California. He is the editor of the online journal, Counterexample Poetics, which focuses on International interpretations of experimental poetry, art, and photography.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two poems from Ray Succre

Fulgent Men

divide themselves young on a thermonuclear
regain of slussy or cwat or punt or tritch,
obscene term for female genitals,
with a crescent wrench hostility,
a gain of signatures from unfortified ponies.

Or as they think.

Deep retracted from this expansive show,
I've learned to hold hands, clean or vulgar,
hands, domestic or dizzying, rid of glary bits
and brimming with notice, and divide myself
to tandem memory, day by bang-up day,
as goes this less sleepy, stellar sort of me.

Dead On (Indirectly)

Contents_Hot thinks well of himself, per se,
and thinks you're the virtue circular
he met through an online dating mess.
You should know, Miss_Gourmet,
Contents_Hot spends Thursdays dunking
his costumes in Tide for the churner-paddle,
eating microwaved sandwich pockets
(the package warning from which he
designed his longstanding screen name),
and then gesticulating wildly with his genitals
while reloading downloadable content.

You will likely find in him a grand monologue
of dorkdom from feverish, ongoing isolation.
He needs you, you know, a poise of parole,
and would treat you to his restoration,
should you greet him more than the once,
tonight and blind, to the misjudge of pictures,
should you become happy with him and decide
to quell the chessboard of your seldom pleasing

You're no gourmet and you want to be in love.
He's an intuitive kisser-at-the-door, you know.

Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and son. He has been published in Aesthetica, BlazeVOX, and Pank, as well as in numerous others across as many countries. His novel Tatterdemalion (Cauliay) was recently released in print and is available most places. A second novel, Amphisbaena, is forthcoming in summer 2009. He tries hard.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two poems from Francis Raven

Editor's Note: These two poems are from Francis Raven's chapbook, The Failures, which was recently published by Chippens.

They Call it Wolfing

In the end I just knew there was no way
I could have eaten all those hotdogs.
It wasn’t my first competition, but what was I thinking?
I invited everyone, my mom, her husband
(Who I absolutely refuse to call my stepdad), my sisters
And their short-term boyfriends. The thing was
It was hot. Have you ever tried to eat a lot
When it’s really hot; it’s not that easy.
It’s sort of like the sweat restricts your throat
Or sort of pokes your uvula so you gag.
I puked. It was embarrassing, but it was puke or die
And in that situation you’d probably have chosen
Much like me: I didn’t die: I failed.
I thought they’d support me
But they really didn’t.
They all sort of made fun of me and made me
Watch them eat lunch at the after-party.
That’s why I don’t really have much contact
With my family

The Lottery

By God I’ve scratched; bought and scratched;
The minor wins merely pique the urge to scratch: I scratch.
I know it’s not in my best interest but
I don’t scratch for a minor boost
I scratch for a qualitative difference.
I scratch for a new car, and not just any new car
But a car I can’t afford now.
I don’t even know what car that is, but I scratch for
That which could scratch me up a notch
If only scratching could stop the itch
But it just brings my needs to a froth.
If only I hadn’t seen how the other half lives,
But it’s not just the other half any more;
It’s everyone appears to live the same,
Though they can’t possibly. Thus we’re all scratching
Futilely as the swisher under the bullet proof glass spins money
Towards a disgruntled employee who knows I haven’t won
Before I do. It’s in his eyes. It’s always in his eyes
Sort of like dust rigged against me.

Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple University. His books include 5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the Question More Complicated(Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website:


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Opposite of The Alphabet

Editor's Note: This week's post is an imitation of Jennifer Knox's poem, "The Opposite of Crunchberries." The Alphabet is a 952 page book by Ron Silliman.

The Opposite of The Alphabet

The opposite of The Alphabet is
a stylish pullover.
The opposite of a stylish pullover is
Brussels sprouts.
The opposite of Brussels sprouts is
fuzzy dice.
The opposite of fuzzy dice is
The Ivory Coast.
The opposite of The Ivory Coast is
a monster truck rally.
The opposite of a monster truck rally is
gel pens.
The opposite gel pens is
a cinderblock.
The opposite of a cinderblock is
a ventilation shaft.
The opposite of a ventilation shaft is
a bloodbath.
The opposite of a bloodbath is
a water landing.
The opposite of a water landing is
a retarded butterfly.
The opposite of a retarded butterfly is
The opposite of applesauce is
the General Lee.
The opposite of the General Lee is
an 18% tip.
The opposite of an 18% tip is
a perp walk.
The opposite of a perp walk is
a steamer trunk.
The opposite of a steamer trunk is
Jose Canseco’s jockstrap.
The opposite of Jose Canseco’s jockstrap is
a whale song.
The opposite of a whale song is
spurring a tumbleweed
away from unwanted octuplets
toward The Alphabet.

By Michael Theune and Chip Corwin

Michael Theune is Associate Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University. He is the editor of Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns (Teachers & Writers, 2007). Learn more about poetic turns at his Web site, Structure & Surprise.

To learn more about the process used to write this poem, click here.