Two Poems by Joe Balaz

Carcass in the Fields
The visual sermon went over everyone’s head.

Futility walked around in full daylight
holding a lamp and searched everywhere.
The only honest man in the village
ran and hid so he wouldn’t be found.

Concealment in this case was appropriate.
No need to consummate the quest of a sage
who filled his life with almost nothing.

A porous heart bled the intention
of that hidden man who was dressed in black.
Accustomed to burying philosophy
in the context of a final truth,
one could mistake him for a priest,
if he were not the undertaker.

Diogenes seeked some kind of answer
looking for honesty among humanity.
It must have been his mongrel spirit that moved him.
He stared into an empty bowl,
as a canine chorus whimpered and howled
to the minimal light of a shrouded moon.

Not that it even matters,
for any insight that ever was,
will always yield to a carcass in the fields.

Roadside Turnoff
A voodoo blast
slammed into the eardrums like a cyclone,
whipping and swirling paisley winds,
as the ghost of Jimi Hendrix exhaled.

Complimenting the psychedelic music,
a painting by Hieronymus Bosch hung up on the wall.
The Garden of Earthy Delights with a soundtrack.
I wondered who came up with the synergy.

At a roadside turnoff,
bikers and barflies
filled the watering hole next to a gas station.

Outside tumbleweeds rambled
into the far reaches of the desert,
like the slurred stories within,
from some of the patrons
hollowed out like dying cactus trees.

There was sand in my shoes,
but clarity in my head.
I just stopped to ask for directions.

The bartender laughed,
and cherry topped his answer
with a smirk,
even though it was a common cliché—

Just keep driving east
on the highway,” he said.
Until you reach somewhere.

About the Poet
Joe Balaz lives in Ohio.  His poems have appeared in Pittsburgh Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, and Hawai’i Review, among others. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.

Issue 1 Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Poem Project

Tender Spoon the Shout Ordinary Windfall Toughtitty Cityscape DaCapo
by William Doreski, John Michael Flynn, Kathryn Hujda, Heikki Huotari, Allan Kaplan, Graam Liu, John Lowther, Mark J. Mitchell and Richard King Perkins II

Heretics of darkness surge into the verdict of a renaissance gleam
parallels and pigeons crash in treetops.
Sun rises, sets. It’s all the same
shots rang out so tech is done.
She says rising from sleep that these aren’t her socks either.
On a cold and sunny morning anything is possible including crows.
Born to die Earth wakes up unhappy
exercise machines prey behind frosted glass like French nuns.
The end is beginning but meaning is in-between…in bed.

Note: This is a different version of an exquisite corpse with no restrictions. Each poet contributed a word for the title and a line for the poem. Everything will be organized according to whoever responded first. The resulting poem can be a little chaotic, since each poet does not know what has been written or what will be written. 

Two Sonnets from 555 by John Lowther

[All that we are arises within our thoughts.]
All that we are arises within our thoughts.
Everything had to be done through my panties.
It’s great, it makes you feel really guilty.
On a cellular level, that’s what it wants.
Unless you don’t like fun.

Any boy can be opera.
Easy enough, when you’re a god.
In that case, just linger endlessly.
All that changes is the focus.
Under surveillance.
Outside, sky and no horizon.
Examples are not interchangeable.

It took me a while to work that one out.
Our moods do not believe in each other.
Unlike me.

[The old jury lived simply in a dumpster.]
The old jury lived simply in a dumpster.
Private property is a thing of the past.
Nothing joyous ever took place in that room.
There are individuals, and that is all.
The 20th century was here and gone.
It rolled off the tongue.
No glocka glocka.

Another boring week in the space business.
It’s already about a late-night moment.
Sometimes it was deliberate evasion.
We’re dedicated to our favorite shows.
Making sense is already delusional.
Let me explain.
No, says the sadist.

Note on the Text 
555 is a collection of sonnets whose construction is database-driven and relies on text analytic software. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets to arrive at averages for word, syllable and character (inclusive of punctuation but not spaces). These averages (101 words, 129 syllables, 437 characters) became requirements for three groups of sonnets. I collected lines from anywhere and everywhere in the air or in print in a database. The lines are all found, their arrangement is mine. Values for word, syllable and character were recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities were preserved; only initial capitals and a closing period have been added as needed. The selection of lines isn’t rule-driven and inevitably reflects what I read, watch, and listen to, thus incorporating my slurs and my passions as well as what amuses and disturbs me. These sonnets were assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes; by ear, notion, or loose association; by tense, lexis, tone or alliteration. Every sonnet matches its targeted average exactly. Think of Pound’s “dance of the intellect among words” then sub sentences for words—it is amongst these I move. The dance in question traces out a knot (better yet, a gnot) that holds together what might otherwise fly apart. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line.

About the Poet
John Lowther’s work appears in the anthologies, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink.

For the Nostalgic by Luther Hughes

For the Nostalgic

on midnight
you remember being six.
your cartoon fingers.
your hips playing.

your death:

sternum to floor.          pelvis made
a            wishbone. time turned
albino.              slid spine.        speckled chin.
a                                       palms pearled red.
a            shoulders stirred bow.
became moans. became moon. became marrow.
lungs forward. legs coiled into creek.

head to floor.
blood to floor.


About the Poet
Luther Hughes is an undergraduate poetry student at Columbia College Chicago. His works have appeared in Espial, The Voices Project, Howl and MUSED Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful.

End Papers #4 by Roger Williams

End Papers #4
If in murmurs’ apart
(chortles tea-cup)
so since best at either
witchity nog
or as it’s past swelling
crowds the leap out

lo the angle sped sap
but as hanging aground
could such bucolic
a yard charred past jitters

smack of it?

belting how the ol’ per-
tain hands over grown eager
let fly super?

Can’t re:issue
Rounds are out

About the Poet
Roger Williams lives an hour north of San Francisco where he taught French at San Francisco State University until retirement in 1987. Before, he studied poetry with Roethke and Bogan and, for some forty years, set poems to music–Wilde, Patchen, Creeley, Merwin and others. Now he writes poems, but he does not set them to music. His poetry appears in: UDP 6×6 #25, and a broadside, Experiential-Experimental Literature, Counterexample Poetics, Otoliths #26, #31, #33, Ygdrasil, Eskimopi, Mu mu magazine, Ditch.

The Talking Force by Heikki Huotari

The Talking Force
My radius a play of chain, a turn of phrase, my thought balloon is red and round or red not
round or round not red or neither red nor round. My thought balloon, when rubbed and twisted,
is a poodle or a hat or both a poodle and a hat, a tag team, alternately one a bubbling tub
and one a prehistoric horse. Translucent cylinders of sloshing water, naturally occurring
Stirling engines, in their separated shaded lanes, as in concurrence, change their course.  

About the Poet
Heikki Huotari is a retired professor of mathematics. In a previous century, he attended a one-room country school, spent summers on a forest-fire lookout tower and published poems in Poetry Northwest and Kayak. Recent poems have appeared in Crazyhorse and Berkeley Poetry Review.

Two Poems by Jim Davis

def: the art of discovering
temperament & character
from outward appearance: smile

lines, baggy eyes, woman of my dreams
I don’t sleep so I can’t find her, copper
pennies worn  down by a tongue the color
of new ways of employing time-

honored processes, which is in its utmost
a secretion of Spanish news into sweet
dreams are made of peas pushed around
in an oil slick plate, where an egg white

clouds & rain argues like a stomach
of peas. Remember the days when we wanted
to know what we’d look like in the future?
Remember when I stood in the dirt, where

everyone walked? Everything looked like poem
dust. Those were the days of raw & rampant
sentiment. The whole thing owed to moments
of certainty. Sediment, apprentice of the world

mowing grass in rows: stripes catching light
in one direction, then another –
we should be so grateful.

12:12 < 11:11
.                       Who was king of that world we forgot
we owed money to, money too in the breathless
.  silence in which together we live. Great supposition
ensues. In certain of my minds, dreams, your eyes
.  aren’t green at all but some amalgamation, muted
reflection of fire and blood – those you avoided
.  then desired, avoided again. Who were you, cruel
lovetap, glinting in some nominal cast at the silver forge
.  to dangle from collar bone, earlobe? I’m sure you are
too unissued to pull Neil apart – Young not Diamond –
.  enigma of the disembodied songster, young one, not us,
young buck cutting through the forest goes and fucks

.  until his antlers grow and get stuck between two
sentences. Unwritten messages between predictions
.  are all you should crack up to be, where you’d best
invest your savings – liminal stock is the only guarantee,
.  lock jaw and barrel through dry walls, any other wall
will resist. The old grape cough syrup container has
.  clouded – in your dreams you pull harder, find me, wish
for proper signals to engorge – then the king appears –
.  pull again and you’ll sleep for good, he will tuck you in,
leave a glass of juice at the bedside, he will pardon
.  your debts, you think, although he’s already collected: sock
drawer, silver earring, unwrapped prophylactics, sack of teeth.

About the Author
Jim Davis is an MFA candidate at Northwestern University. His work has appeared in Wisconsin Review, Seneca Review, Adirondack Review, Midwest Quarterly and Contemporary American Voices, among many others. Jim lives, writes, and paints in Chicago, where he reads for TriQuarterly and edits North Chicago Review.

The Guide Dream, San Francisco by Mark J. Mitchell

The Guide Dream, San Francisco

El poeta como guía turístico dirá ustedes.
                                             —Nicanor Parra

In the tour guide dream you spiral down
to the left while the sky bleeds gray.
Cold tourists, damp as seals, bark questions
in a language that’s never been spoken
on this planet, beneath this sky.
In this dream they look, they never see.
They swim across tarmac, run over seas.
Visitors appear soft as eiderdown,
puffy, cold. Explain that flattened sky,
they ask. Silent, you brush away not yet gray
hair and laugh as if they haven’t spoken.
They believe it all. There’s nothing to question.
But they point, you look. You question
history. They ask, again, if they’ll get to see
that shrine, left destroyed when words weren’t spoken
at the right time. The statue fell down
a set of broken stairs, shattered into gray
dust on the sidewalk, matching that sky.
You stretch your fingers, draw on the sky
but they still don’t understand that questions
don’t mean the same things here. There’s a gray-
eyed girl in the back you’ve never seen
but you know. She refuses to sit down
when you bark an order. Unspoken
signals are shared like bicycle spokes. In
time that’s all that remains under this sky—
a wheel, a door, a red bus that’s fallen down
a hill too steep to climb. There’s no question—
the attempt should not have been made. They’ll see
that if the sky ever clears. It stays gray
as the girl’s eyes, but she’s gone. Gray
blankets are limp on the seats, and spoken
letters drop like pennies. There’s nothing to see
but they keep coming, keep dropping from the sky
keep landing, soft and damp as question
marks beside the name you didn’t write down.
You scan the flat sky. It’s still as gray
as glass. Questions linger. No one has spoken
since you turned down that hill towards the sea.

About the Poet
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthology Good Poems, American Places. He is author of the chapbook Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press, 2010) and the novel Knight Prisoner (Vagabondage Press, 2014).  He has another novel, A Book of Lost Songs, forthcoming from Wild Child Publishing and a book, This Twilight World, forthcoming from Popcorn Press. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the filmmaker Joan Juster.

The Sunday Paper by Allan Kaplan

The Sunday Paper

The drama reviewer on addressing the blank page
as the midnight deadline approaches
“Fake it, sweetheart.
One squeal
would embarrass us.”
Interviewing the plumber who found $10,000 in a paper bag
“Stan, what did you think when you found
that hand decomposing in all that moo-lah?”
“Finger itch is gone.”
Editorial: Flynn’s Kindness to Animals                                 
After dragging Flynn’s cumbrous projects
through the city council, our donkey
nibbled on the sweetest corn in Flynn’s bin.
Obituary: the Italian Tenor Guido Santorini 85
Those familiar jowls joggling,
his comic aria soared to the upper balcony.
His wife recalls, “Guido’s sly wink at God.”
From Professor Adamson’s column of historical trivia 
Spying his student weeping in the crazed mob,
Jean-Paul, a wry scholar from Province, quipped,
“The fresh root of headless will be my head.”

About the Poet
Allan Kaplan spends much daytime alone writing and revising, or watching endless late night movies with his wife. His books include Paper Airplane (Harper & Row) and Like One of Us (Untitled). His poems appeared in journals of various persuasions over the years; i.e.  Poetry, Apalachee Quarterly, Paris Review, Iowa Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, Washington Square Review, Barrow Street, Wind, Folio, Gulf Stream, Widener Review, Nimrod and Bad Penny Review.

Three Poems by Thomas Swiss

In Hospital
Your mischief subtracted,
Your temper withdrawn,
You lifted, at last, your hand.
Wounded, you were cartoonish:
An alley cat waving a kerchief.

Warehouse District
In a light rain we stopped at Moose & Sadies
And drank tea and talked for hours.
I watched the riders go over the river
When you took a call from work.
In the kitchen, someone turned on Pandora.
Bowie’s “Heroes” played.
FedEx rolled up. A bus pulled in.

Pedal Pub
A centipede in traffic with a bar on its back
Motored by barelegged girls.

Exotic in Minneapolis,
But not so glamorous inching past Mike’s Plumbing.

Under the stadium and over to Hennepin,
An almost invertebrate biomass trailing a slop of lager.

About the Poet
Thomas Swiss is author of two books of poems, Measure and Rough Cut. He is the editor or co-editor of books on popular music, including Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (U Minnesota, 2009), as well as books on new media literature, including New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories (MIT Press, 2006).