Bread for the King
Memphis, Tenn, 2001
“When the King was in this city,
the streets flowed with electricity.”
He lays a hand on the red marble.
Broken, in a black glove.
The African from the eastern desert
Took me to a tomb.
An image, black and grey,
Crackles on a wall.
The King, dancing, laughing,
ecstatic and unsure.
Beneath the pyramid
he tells me how he beats his son,
for not knowing how to bake bread
or worship the King.
Tells me how a boy with a silver gun
made his body dance
with five bullets
then run through the streets
of their city.
* Dennis Muchmore is a retired teacher. He adds that he was involved in various art/musical enterprises during 60's & 70's – is now writing and painting again. (Good …Ed)
The Best Way To Protect The Future
The best way to protect the future
Is to create it yourself
And bring some Nat King Cole in
And some Beach Boys for yourself
And we can’t forget Dylan
Nor Peter, Paul and Mary
That will make a future
Nowhere near scary
And if you want some deeper things
Let’s have William Shakespeare
And you and I on the couch
Thinking bout our kin folk
Cept I don’t want Teri there smiling
Saying I knew that would happen
* G David Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue. Currently a volunteer at Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, Schwartz continues to write. His new book Midrash and Working Out Of The Book can be ordered from www.amazon.com/gp/product/1418489565/104-8454011-6722310?n=28315
Light from everywhere this afternoon, every windshield and sheet of glass, light off of cuff links and earrings, from every concealed whim, light from belt buckles and clasps on the vintage shoes of that assistant manager, light off the foil that guards the yogurt, from inside the bottle of Orange Crush, from the Timex on his wrist and the stud in her tongue, from the shattered mirror at the infidels’ shine beside Los Tacos, from every living retina including the eye of that placid spaniel on the rhinestone leash. And then all of a sudden there’s this big black Lab in the middle of the street, tail curled under his belly, cowering, to and fro, willy nilly, lost and scared. Men get out of their cars, whoop and cluck. Women crouch, one hand out, and kiss the air. Light, nevertheless, off the polyglot, the lisps of their scoldings. Then a little boy beside me starts to whimper: his dog is at home. The ones on TV are busy rescuing crippled girls. Those in the library are pulling sleds or at least chasing a ball thrown by a good-natured kid. His father points to a man in a brown uniform, “Look, he’ll catch him and take him back to his mommy.” “Don’t lie,” wails the boy. “You said you wouldn’t lie anymore.” And just like that it’s dark.
Rasp of a Zippo
lighter. It’s so cold someone
holds both his hands out.
* Ron Koertge is a poet living in Southern California. His latest book is FEVER (Red Hen Press).
* Maggie West says “After
I had been writing short poems for some years, I discovered haiku while
studying formal western-style calligraphy. In 1992, I became
a member of The British Haiku Society and was thereby
introduced to other forms of Japanese poetry. Working mainly
with inks and other water-based media, I have always enjoyed 'mark
making'; transforming the tactile working surface using many
types of brushes, pens, quills and sticks as necessary. I try
to make my handwriting on the haiga as legible as possible without
being formal. As I come from a 'western art' background, my
work is not traditional in the Japanese sense; however, I try
to be true to the spirit of haiga.” For more information visit Maggie's website at www.maggieonthebeach.co.uk
When the rain began, people rushed out to gather as much as they could. It was real. All denominations. Money.
Wealth beyond avarice.
Then came the day it changed. It burst into flames and scorched their eager fingers, sticking like napalm. They ran for shelter into buildings that caught fire, into churches, into their cars. They fled the city; took refuge where they could.
They sought the high ground.
At Angel Hill crowds gathered having abandoned their vehicles. There it was safe, but vast violent storm clouds veered across the valley and away down to the west, lowering, ever closer; menacing. Each separate soul watched in awe, awaiting whatever would drop from those clouds.
I waited too.
The rearing front legs of a white steed emerged, and the rider, too bright to behold, silver gilt, thundered into being. Many perished at the sight of him. His companion followed close on a chestnut battle stallion, striking red sparks on the earth, cleaving heads with a fiery sword.
As he passed he bent and breathed to me.
‘I have not come for thee.’
From the blackest of the clouds and blacker still rode Want, and emaciated all whom he had governed. I saw their papery shadows, two dimensional, cast to the wind like worthless promisary notes. In his wake the pale rider descended. His horse, grey, tinted with all the phosphorous corruption of decay.
He had his rights. I was bone.
I tried to remember hope.
* Oonah Joslin sometimes she loses the plot. Sometimes she never had one.
www.oonahs.blogspot.com Oonah is also the managing editor of
At the End of a Room
They took the bed. Wardrobe. Chest of drawers. The low wooden trunk that sat at the bottom of the bed. When mama was alive there were cushions on the trunk – turquoise with gold thread that I traced with my eyes. After she died, the cushions disappeared and there was nothing to sit on but dark polished wood.
The men were nice enough. Two young ones, eighteen or nineteen, clusters of spots disturbing their skin, and the older one in charge, pot-bellied and pink-skinned. They grunted as they shifted the furniture. It was the old, heavy kind, made by hands, not the hard silver edges of machines.
I stood, suddenly extraneous, a woman paying men for their muscle, for the fact that this bed, this wardrobe, this chest of drawers and this low wooden trunk that hasn’t held turquoise cushions for twenty-five years, mean no more to them than any other beds, wardrobes, chests of drawers and trunks.
It is early morning. I am standing on a chair by the broad bay window that used to let light spill onto the bed and the wardrobe and the chest of drawers and the trunk that the men took away. One of the curtains lies on the floor where I have dropped it, like a piece of clothing cast aside because there are more important things to do than put it back where it belongs. The other curtain still hangs, and I can’t quite find the strength to prise the plastic hooks from the plastic hoops, support the surprising weight of it in my arms until it is ready to fall.
The chair I stand on I’ve dragged in from the room that used to be mine. It creaks under the weight of me. The men, who took away the bed and the wardrobe and the chest of drawers and the trunk, turned their noses up at the chair and so it drifts, as I do, through the almost empty house that almost isn’t ours.
The room looks different from up here. I can see a grey trail of cobwebs reaching from the curtain rail to the coving. I can see the line where one piece of wallpaper meets its neighbour. I look down at the carpet. It still holds the memory of the bed and the wardrobe and the chest of drawers and the trunk; marks out their right angles like a floor plan drawn to reassure a buyer that the things they already own will fit into the new space they are about to buy.
There is nothing left but me and the chair and the one curtain. If I leave it, the people who are about to sign the piece of paper, which will mean I have to close the front door of this house for the last time, will take it down. The man – with his nervous hands and careful eyes – might frown, for a moment, look about for a chair to stand on. The woman might tut her neat pink tongue in her neat pink mouth as she fetches a bin bag to bundle it into. They will heave the weight of it down the stairs, leave it out by the bins, next to the acacia bush which mama planted, one of the colours he didn’t get rid of.
And then they will direct the men that they are paying where exactly to put their bed, their wardrobe, their chest of drawers and their trunk.
* Sarah Butler writes novels and short fiction and has been published on www.pulp.net and in several anthologies. See www.sarahbutler.org.uk for more of her writing, and www.urbanwords.org.uk for information about her work with literature and regeneration.
Dementia: Forgotten sounds
In the beginning
silence and emptiness
before you begin to remember
then the hush that makes you feel light at the top of your spine
then the quietness that hints at memory sounds
then the itch that makes you scratch your eardrums
then the hum of whirring wings waiting
then the curse that makes you stop listening
then the thunder that pushes your ears together but your skull resists
then the forgotten sounds of dementia
in the end
silence and emptiness
after you have forgotten.
* Phuoc-Tan Diep is a regular contributor to IS&T, you can find his latest e-book (or digital chapbook) – called Lights out and other poems – can be downloaded free of charge from http://stores.lulu.com/diep