Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mario Lemieux

Waits for the puck in a New Kensington living room.
The wall poster action shot above a worn out couch.
A woman bends down to sweep her carpet with a broom.

Dog hair, Dorito crumbs, torn receipts. I wait
with tools to be told where the broken sink is.
“That was 92" she says. "Their second cup.

Third period. I was there when he scored the game winner,
banged that puppy right in.” I walk past toys, strewn clothes,
a ceiling fan dangling by the wires and kneel before the porcelain God.

A cracked sink and faucet that screams burning hot water or nothing
at all. When I leave, the new sink shines like a full moon in the dark
of burned out lamps, the unswept dirt of pizza crusts and Legos.

Mario on the wall, looming like a ghost on ice, before the shot.
Before any goal could save a city. In town, the buildings I pass
fade into a wet blur. Flecked with rain, the businesses stripped

of names, boarded up glass, soaped up or duct taped.
Nothing open but a bar and a bank, Citizens
flashing alive in neon.

No one here will scoring anything tonight, but maybe a little weed,
a six pack after work and the game on tonight, the ice
cleaned of its scratches and cuts, made new,

TV’s filling our rooms with blue light, a chorus of screams.
That hunger we don’t want to name.


-- Bob Walicki 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Warm Winter

I pine for the
soft robots
and fast sloths
of spring.
it’s been months of
hot blood:
hot blood
at lunch,
hot blood
in the shower.
I want to kiss you
like a kitten licks
things
but we kiss
like we’re chatting,
not like cats
at all, and
anyway, ever since
I found that cat
and brought him back,
my life is
re-interpreted
through a haze of fur.
I saved his life
instead of watching
werewolves.
now it’s all stupid
meows instead of
transformations.
even my nosebleeds are
mundane.
there’s no snow.
we hike in the mud.
my only pleasure is
the feel of your arm.
please don’t
tell me that anecdote
again.

  -----Tessa Barber

Bunny's Hasty Tasty Pancake House, Dayton, OH

- for Lee Morgan

We don't like the pancakes we like the eggs over easy
we like the formica tables our names etched
in the deep old scratches we like the bottomless
coffee and the fine bottoms of waitresses
we like Elgar and Toscanini the way they
slide into the booth with us and get us all
to quietly hum along we like the view of the
parking lot and the passing traffic and
how there's nowhere else we need to be
we like Bunny and how he says he's
lefthanded in both hands we like
how he still likes Eisenhower and keeps
his photo up over the grill a shining
layer of bacon grease glossing the eyes
of the great general we like the shelters
Bunny built during the war for the orphans
and nuns out of big mahogany boxes
and how he dug the tunnels under the floors
to help warm their dirty bare feet
we like that we don't have to talk about the war very
much at all we like that we're here and not at Bill's Donuts
we don't like Bill and neither does Bunny.

-- Kris Collins

Perry the Worm Had a Habit of Handies

And he would come into the bookstore every day 
to sell off books he got from who knows where.
The books were very unremarkable. So I always 
low-balled the fuck out of him. He was so wormy.
I didn’t want to deal with him. I thought maybe if
I continually low-balled him, he’d stop coming in.
I was wrong. He continued to come in every day.

-- Scott Silsbe

Five Short Ones

Under this whiskey hat
all my stories
waiting for grandchildren
*
porcupine moon
& one 
unlucky dog
*
we called her Suzie zit-tit
but no one thought of pimples
when she sucked
*
ten beers
& still no
better angels
*
bags of sorrow
every woman
every man

    --- Bart Solarczyk

My Drunk Places

Poetry is the ghost
Of a noble horse
One grown numb
To the stick
Foaming against the
Falling snow
Ice forming
On his lips

When they found this horse
Eating flowers
From the lighthouse garden
Everyone knew
It was time
To drag the lake

-- Mark Borczon

The Way I Know my Own Daughters

For Lily, Aurora and Sophia

There are birds in my heart
With wings that thrum
Like Spanish guitars
Their appetites lead me
To seek out flowers
And rivers and, at night
Any surface that reflects
The moon

One bird sings to me
About love and tells me
Her boy is as graceful 
As a dancing horse
Tells me that music
Comes from the air
All around him
Like a harmonica
Caught in
A hurricane

The other bird sings only
Of sadness and shame
She makes her song from
Safety pins and the blade
From a pencil sharpener
Her voice draws her own blood
As she sings a death song
To her father over
The telephone

Without my birds I
Wouldn’t know rivers or
Flowers or where to
Find the moon when it
Lays upon the ground
And I would not know
The music of love and pain
The way I know
My own daughters

-- Mark Borczon

Tony

had been
in Vets
court for
over a
year was
still in
phase one
and had
been taken 
back into
custody three
different times
but he
dealt with
setbacks
and relapse
with humility
and maintained
his dignity
even when
the judge
talked to
him like 
a child
so we
were all 
surprised
when he
hung himself
the same
day the
bank took
his motorcycle
away.

-- Matt Borczon

Poem on Van Gogh's Birthday

I didn't mind
when she said
she wasn't going

to sleep with me
or anyone until
she was married
I didn't mind
when her grandma
called me a sissy
at dinner when
I said the plane
ride made me nervous
I didn't mind
her redheaded cousin's
hand on my leg
as she tried to
convince me to
leave her behind
I didn't even mind
her fathers constant
preaching at me
about the need
to put God at
the center of my life
but when we were
at the Metropolitan museum
and she  was  trying
to rush me through
the Van Gogh exhibit
finally stopping in front
of one of my favorite
paintings to ask me
what is so fucking good about this
I knew our relationship
was over.

-- Matt Borczon

Some days the war

some days
the war
is an
ex girlfriend
I don’t
want around
but can’t
stop talking
about

some days
the war
is a
sandwich
I’ve eaten
whole but
refuse to
pay for

some days
the war
is an
open doorway
I can’t 
make myself
walk through

some days
the war
is a
5 finger
death punch
song on
my car
radio and
the only 
end I
can see
is us
going through
the windshield
entangled
like lovers

some days
the war
is my
mother
reminding me
that no one
will watch
sick children

some days
the war 
is a
drinking buddy
my wife
worries about
when ever
we leave
the house

some days
the war
is my
lord and
savior
writing poems
and watching
over me
like a 
machine made
of shame

some days
the war
is my
5th prom
in 4 years
I own
the tuxedo
but can’t
remember who
I agreed
to go
with

and some
days the
war is
a broken
promise
a frozen
nightmare
a parade
of ghost
a dead
child
and an
empty space
station
searching
the universe
for the
live I
had 6 
years ago.

-- Matt Borczon

The Great American Apple Pie Fight

I found snow white
seven dwarfs
spiderman
laurel and hardy
and the blues brothers
dancing
holding still
outside the petersburg chamber of commerce
all the while
lee greenwood sang the chorus
of
“proud to be an American”
an endless loop
I was moved
I was moved
it was like
I had an apple pie fight
with god

-- Jason Baldinger

Drive in Theaters

The Lincoln Highway
was home to many,
as it should’ve been,
cars being its commerce.
But now they are gone.
No more Blue Dell, Greater Pittsburgh,
and Ardmore.
Instead it’s strip malls,
Walmarts, and Sunday flea markets.
What’s left is us,
those conceived in tailfinned
Chevys and DeSota’s.
The fogged windows of desire
and forgotten protection,
caught up in the rapture
of Bogart and Bacall,
the tin speaker
jangling on the glass,
the family behind,
flashing high beams,
having just released
their own hostaged children
from the deceitful trunk ploy,
Dad wishing he could’ve left them there.
And they all met
at the concession stand
because who could resist
talking popcorn boxes?
And they’d buy overpriced
and shriveled hot dogs
that spun on silver rollers.
And teenage girls would shiver
into their boyfriends letter jackets
and re-button first base.
The second feature held no more hold
than the first, as sodas spilled
and popcorn flew,
all in the backseat of
making me and you.

-- Declan Synott