the sound of darkness

a holy hush
on the hills

the king crow
and the green
and the pied
bush chat
have yielded
their dominion

the horizon
where cloud
and hill
kiss or
fail to kiss
like parting
in unwilling hurry

the chengi
the garmented

from the
hindu village
from view
the darkling horns
into the vale

and from the vale
toward the hills
the muezzin's
catabatic call

a choir of crickets
their refrain
by the humid heat

and sound
for a while
the unseen
the unrevealed
the unknown

the darkness

-- Iftekhar Sayeed

an opaque afternoon

stratocumulus opacus

a thin film
of rain
is falling

of mist
between folds
of hilled forests
are rising

a bedraggled
black drongo
on a patient

nine spotted doves
on an electric wire


an independent
in white flight
over green paddy
glides under
a treetop

the sodden
the sodden

the syllabled rain
gives language
to leaves

a somniferous

the chengi river
with rain
and eddies

no urchins fish
with outsize nets
no flash
of white
a maturer hand

the parenthetic
ferry boat
has long ago
oared its
last passenger
from shore to shore

yesterday's fire
that felt
like heaven's ire
in rain
and the pyre
loses its focus

-- Iftekhar Sayeed


Egg King

Twenty-seven thousand chickens!

I’d retired as a neurosurgeon
and fancied my image:  
six-foot four, a straggly moustache
ostrich cowboy boots
Lord of Layers
out in a far corner of the Valley

The tin roofs of my chicken houses
my mirrored shades
reflecting glare
a two-mile driveway
oval as an egg
ending at my mansion

My reverie is broken
as I remember how badly I piss off women
It won’t be long before all these damn hens
are frigid and eggless

I turn to my business partner
who considers himself
my buddy

and demand to know:  
What the fuck are you thinking?

-- Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


Kayla blames Luna for her moodiness
and Denver banned fireworks this year  
 our streets filled with smoke from Wyoming
and Colorado Springs
Moon and stars are all we get
No rocket’s red glare, no bombs bursting in air

Five new wars ready to break out  
our military exhausted
I covet other’s explosions

Fuligo Septica (dog vomit slime mold)
lights up Careaga’s strife-torn Oakland sidewalk
with bioluminescence
Walking up his stairs jars the memory
of other years without celebration  

But Kayla’s hot as a cherry bomb
I remember her in junior high
wearing a black mini- skirt
 sitting on my hand

-- Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The Cambridge Men

the Cambridge men in borrowed galleries
self-assured of superior minds
(also, with Abercrombe’s blessings
scented, coifed and haberdashed)

believing in little else and a few
close Cambridge friends as of this writing
still pointedly delighting in their own
well-read psycho-philosophical repartee  
while with slightly drunken knowing faces
pan nearly everyone else’s verse
.... the Cambridge men do not care
to hear in Cambridge if sometimes
amid the general elitist din a voice other
than their own lays bare the emptiness
of their own.

-- Tom Rubenoff

in homage to e. e. cummings

Twin Girls, 1948

Beth was always different
marching as she did
to an armless drummer.

Her sister Kate marched
to another drummer,
one with arms on certain days

but never with a drum
that caught the sticks Kate
kept in the air flailing.

When the girls were young
their mom and dad took them out
for walks on Sunday

afternoons in summer.
The girls waved to butterflies
but never to anyone else.

It was hard for other kids
peering from porches
to understand the problem.
When the twins were small
they didn't call it autism.
It had no name on my block.

Now the illness has a name
and different medications
that sometimes temper

but never cure.
The girls are women now
old and living in a big home

with others in a small band
some still playing instruments
no one else can see.

-- Donal Mahoney

The Parish Carnival

That's Bernie's wife on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms.
Once again she won't get off
even though Bernie is yelling
next to the concession stand
jumping around in his wheel chair.
He's finished his cotton candy
and wants to go home.
He probably has to pee.
He never goes anywhere
except to the parish carnival.
He loves the cotton candy.
He says it's the same as when
he was a kid years ago
before he fell out of the tree.
He needs Stella more than ever now
to push his wheel chair and she does
except when she comes to the carnival
and gives old Bernie a big plume
of cotton candy and hops on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms
once a summer every year.

-- Donal Mahoney


Big Bet at an Old-Timers' Card Game

The morning paper says
Debbie Reynolds is 82.

Sixty years ago, the little doll
married Eddie Fisher,

balladeer back in our time.
Remember, Eddie dumped Debbie

and married Liz Taylor who
put the oomph in technicolor.

Then Liz dumped Eddie
and married Michael Todd,

the aging movie mogul.
Todd died in a plane crash

and Fisher's dead now, too.
So's the beautiful Ms. Taylor.

Tell me this before you deal again:
When Debbie gets her obit

which of us, and I'll take bets,
will be around to read it.

-- Donal Mahoney


Today Turtles

Today turtles were my favorite animal,
their shells my hiding place,
a shelter from human flesh,
loud noises and
my thoughts about everything.

Yesterday I was fond of rogue elephants
and their unpredictable power
to make people afraid,
cause the ground to shake
and be oblivious to the destruction.

I have never liked oysters,
holding onto their prize
like a spoiled child
so you have to take it by force
and then consume them as bounty.

Wolves are the perfect animal,
strong, bold and fearless.
If they were people
we'd shake their hand
instead of shooting them.

In my front yard I sit,
no shell, no power,
no prize to protect.
I'd shake your hand
but I'm afraid.

-- Christopher Hivner 

End of Summer

The cornfield posed,
straight lines
of green-gold soldiers
standing at attention for me
as if I were
a visiting general
making an inspection.
The farmer stood by,
next to his tractor,
hoping for a good report.
I rode past
on my bike
with a wave,
my salute
to the troops.

-- Christopher Hivner

Diving for Pearls

I drove through
three states,
sun in my eyes,
morning heat
on my cheek,
to get there
but one wish
wasn’t granted.

Jewels on the road
paved my way,
one to one
I followed,
dutiful, obedient,
in no rush
because there was time.

It was for me,
no one else,
noise surrounded me,
people stared, glared,
wondered aloud,
but my perfume
was condensed
to a single bottle.

took shape
in the clouds,
a Spanish armada
sailing for England,
guns loaded
for king and queen.
I had my own
questions and concerns
too numerous to ask.

In the blue sky
there is peace,
in the summer breeze
there is comfort,
in the soul of man
there are questions.

-- Christopher Hivner


The calendar blocks
stared back at me
like five rows of teeth
chattering in my ears

about days I’ve lost,
time I’ve wasted.

The “O” in October
snaked out to me
like an accusing tongue
and the other letters
shook their heads.

Only one day remains
in the tenth month,
then I can turn the page.
Maybe November

won’t be so judgmental.

-- Christopher Hivner

Taleless path…

The tailless squirrel is in the barren apple tree again. I keep thinking it is time to prune. I should have removed the remaining rotting apples from the branches months ago. Too much family drama kept me away. Mister Tailless Squirrel appears content munching on the thawing mushy husks. This winter feels never ending. Perhaps spring's renewal will charge the world with regeneration. Restoration of energy for one. Revival of hope for another. A life anew without need for worry, regret, sadness. Perhaps love. Can the mushy husk of a frozen heart thaw? Spring's rebirth cannot reverse years of rot. Nature takes over and rot composts to feed change.

-- Nina Longfield

Wish you were here…

Good-bye… Good-bye, I said
Send me a post card
Something sunny and fun
An image evocative
Of wanderlust
Maybe sepia in tone
In remembrance of great exploration
Send it to me in the dreary cold north
Stamped with postage from far away

But you won't
There may be an email with pictures attached
But it's not the same
Travel no longer is the same
Too much is known before the destination is reached
It leads to disappointment
Things don't work out the way we imagine…
There is no mystery
No romance in discovery
We expect too much
And achieve nothing

-- Nina Longfield

Gripped in grayness…

There is a man in the clouds
See him watching
scowls often
fades to gray
Disintegrating with the west wind
he is no more, yet everywhere
scatters hither and thither
with showers
neither caring nor callous
just existing
coming back around
to Watch
no judgment
then dissipating again

And the sun is covered by darkening clouds
a chill has set in
all is quiet
no breeze rouses the majestic evergreens
a Storm is coming…
to scour the land and air
Sometimes too much
creating and recreating the earth anew

-- Nina Longfield

An Incorrigible Night

Having unconsciously soldiered
through an incorrigible night,
I was jarred awake by birds

indulging in a range of dirge-like
melodies. That morning had been
engineered with ease; the sun’s

dimmed-halogen glow had merged
seamlessly with the misty foliage
of surrounding woodlands. I drifted

through the day lethargically—
I passed through doors with rusted
hinges. The wars I waged against

my urge to sleep were savage
and drudged on and on until
the rigidity of night arrived once again.

-- M. Drew Williams