Frankenstein’s Monster Looks Back
We are always seeing, always
how deceitful memory
mutates into fiction.
When I was a child, I believed
if I had the key I could walk
into a painting
and disappear there.
Big aromatic leaves of nasturtiums
encircled the house and I would
fling open the casements,
lean out and inhale the fragrance.
I never was really young
but I was innocent.
Memory is circular.
You began to call me “Fiend,”
my handsome maker.
I was no longer
what you intended.
I searched and searched
for that child I remembered.
All the way out here
in the howling winds
and the icy wastes.
Picture by Viviana Hinojosa
Poem by Jane Blue
Music by Sandra Holstein
Where have you taken me?
Twas once I was your fair -haired child
Now it seems I’m out of style
Oh life be gentle yet
There are things I can’t forget
Like autumn love without regret
When autumn turned to winter
Mottled leaves in circles twirl
Inside the spirits of the girl
Whose arms were once around you
Love where have you gone
Just when I thought I’d found you
Snowflakes dance like feathers round my head
I cannot dream my dreams
In an empty bed
Life is for lovers
That’s what you said
Then placed your soul inside me
But now that winter’s taken you from sleep
It seems there’s nothing left to keep
You here beside me
Picture by Katerina Dramitinou
Poem by Sharmagne Leland-St. John
Music by Timur Iskandarov
There are many ways
As there are many ways
Many ways to give
And many ways
In a crowd
Praying to a God
There are many routes
Mysteries to unravel
Roots to follow
Both full and hollow
When I was a child
Rhyme was a comfort
A wild sense of yes
To a dream and a longing
Tales of the impossible
Lulled me into fullness
Everything was possible
Life was blessed
Nothing has changed
And safety nets
Are not welcome
The lungs need for air
As my reflections stare
Into a void
Life is a comedy a tragedy
A drama a cliché a mix
Of all the above
And bottom line
Fan hits shit
The narrative is
Give give live
Picture by Dean Pasch
Poem by Dean Pasch
Music by Ben Fisher
An Old Man Listening to a Young Man Listening to Whitman
He spoke to me in the desert
Outside of Elko, Nevada,
Back forty-some years ago.
Maybe I was asleep
Or maybe I was dreaming.
I don’t remember now.
I was lying on the hard sand,
The billion names of God shining
Above me in the darkest sky.
I was alone there. Not even
A book of poems with me,
When Whitman whispered,
Arise and sing naked
And dance naked
And visit your mother naked
And be funny and tragic
and plugged in, and embrace
the silent and scream for them
And look for me beneath
the concrete streets beneath
your shoeless feet in Chicago
And ask somebody to dance
The bossa nova and hear him or her say
Sorry I left my carrots at home
And be a mind-blistered astronaut
With nothing to say to the sun
But — Honey I’m yours.
That’s the kind of stuff
Whitman was always whispering,
On and on, stuff like that.
And I got up and searched
In my backpack for a candy bar,
Chewed it ‘til there was nothing left
And then I hitched up the road
Out of that silence
Back to the city I grew up in,
Its blocks of blocks of bricks
And its old people in their factories
Who went to Church and got drunk
Who hurt the ones they loved,
Who wondered who made them,
Who lived and died in due time.
Who taught me the world is sand
And drifting dreams and clouds
That speak no English.
Picture by Michael Dickel
Poem by John Guzlowski
Music by Dean Pasch
Careful On The Stairs
Heroes age as we all must.
I was shocked when I saw the most recent photograph of you.
Your poems belie your condition.
They still carry the sweet essence of youth and those things we have always fought for.
The power of vision as sharp as ever, perhaps more fierce given the influence of much-lived wisdom?
These children of today, how they laugh as they pass us by, hurrying to some frivolous meeting we once attended.
All we can do now is bless them and bolster their hopes for a better future.
It is the echo I hear and cherish.
I see myself, captured in their searching eyes.
I reminisce of times that were filled with surprises, the thrill of discovery, oh! and what we learned!
Go for the good things, my young ones.
They have been left for you to find.
Stealth and a true heart are all that you require.
Burn brightly, as we did, saving a little for tomorrow.
You never know how many tomorrows you may get.
As for us, my friend, we are far from dead!
I wish you well in these twilight years.
Please be careful on the stairs.
Picture by Eric Armitage
Poem by Kevin M. Hibshman
Music by Mauricio Venegas-Astorga
QUARTET FOR AGING
The seasons are confused.
Dandelions peer from the eyes
of snowmen and see wooly worms
shivering for want of coats.
Tornadoes visit in January
to shake the town
like a snow globe.
My goals have lost their shoes.
They wander, homeless,
nerve damage in their arms.
There is nothing left
to feed them.
Night sits on my ribs
and stirs a breeze,
makes the curtains sway
but steals my breath.
He laughs at his irony
through diamond-capped teeth.
The shadow of a black dove
trembles over my heart.
This mirror speaks
in its silver voice of spoons
and pocket change. It sees
that I have become a map,
tells me to follow the lines
and find my way.
Picture by Katerina Dramitinou
Poem by Patty Dickson Pieczka
Music by Steve Karn
I hope my eldest sister dies soon, fails to meet her home baker in the sky.
A few will cry- her son and daughters she so neatly propagandised.
As a child- [one who had thwarted her attempts at infanticide]
way old enough to be my mother, she would get within one yard,
that near to me,
and I would smell my piss pants fear and a rank
perfume covering her malignant
or it could have been her post menstrual flood of oestrogen, her femme
femme femme swathe of a Venus of Nursing.
She was the one who set me on the road to cursing women.
My career within Catholicism was not to be. I loathed blood red.
Yet I let one woman close
because her string of boyfriends were the most handsome.
She manipulated me into a lavender marriage-
the very worst miscarriage of justice that ever came
dressed in the costume of a port in a storm.
And whilst I found her cunt both moist and warm
being there made my mind swarm with the bees of boys.
She knew, had always known my predilection
for all of the poetic diction hidden by blow flies. She knew
I’d often fantasize of being fucked by something sizeable,
some sweet thing sucked with my sweet tooth
for men and their sweet need to penetrate their brothers.
they were all of them married to women they had made mothers.
Anything else was fraught with danger.
I ached long in a monogamy of faith that brought forth
where I did actually believe that I deserved a stab at happiness.
Back then all my infidelities consisted of just wanking my self.
My tamed hopes invested in three girls who finally fractured
this most unpoetical of poetic worlds.
I’d spent the hot day oiling my work muscled body in sweat-
farming, the best exercise a man can get. A wide brim straw hat,
holed jeans, boots, a sleeveless shift-shirt rich with the seventies’
fashion for brights. I was brown and shone among the grey hay,
arms full of rogue wild oats. That ancient root of bread and beer
now just as much an abomination as it still was to be queer.
I waved to Krishnamurti on that day. He waved back- his whites
wetted by his stroll along what once was a river bed in Roman times.
Tractored home for lunch and a shower, factoring in the serendipity
of meeting a world changer that the villagers spat at for the brown
of his skin- the husk whose soul they’d not perceived lay heavily within.
His tribe of dreamers were the jungle bunnies squatting in The White House
on the village edge- adepts in the language of nature eschewing banal sin.
Got in the aching door. No-one.
Just the tread of four feet on the hidden stairs.
My wife, ever the actress, playing being utterly unawares.
Her arab fuck, a jeweller, trying to fool me with his sunny disposition.
I had hardly unlaced one boot.
This is harmless she said, would you mind awfully if we had an affair,
would it suit.
I shut the cubicle and drowned in false rain way more cold than hot.
Harmless was beautiful. I would have had him at a shot.
I could have shot jizz between his almond eyes, her pregnant and all.
She’d always find a time to be unusually dishevelled- drugs and sherry,
feeling very sorry for herself and how she willy-nilly shopped for cock
but often, eventually, stopped by me, as if I were that easily forgot,
to say, darling deceptively.
We are still close aren’t we? [Scant reference to me really.]
Darling- you always are my best, your cock and balls are such the best;
you always make love to me like a well endowed male lesbian
and you always give me the best of orgasms.
You’ve shaded all the others into no bodies. Just dicks on sticks.
I gave you children. And yes they are all yours.
What ever was expected of me? To break out into applause.
I always paid the mounting bills. Counting the pills and forgetting.
That is before I got visited by becoming seriously long term ill.
Unsurprising in this petri dish of multiplying viruses.
Madness born of sadness and infants constantly bed wetting.
Then the burden of it hit her slack fanny as if I’d punched her senseless
when all the time it had been me- victimized;
being raped by her, aped by her, bitten, hit and indelibly hurt by her.
The lot of it unbought, unseen, hidden, unaddressed.
Human violations passed off as some bent but tender togetherness.
There has never been one shred of redress.
Women have always worn the trousers softened by fascist blouses,
they have always torn stripped skin from men
and visited the flagellation of a stronger weaker-sex upon them.
They choose the sperm that worms its way to prick their egg
and men still beg to slaver over offal at their behest.
Their power has always melted thrones even when they age
into those wintry crones who pace the corridors of power
blaming men for everything that men have landed on them.
When you seek to have it all, that elevation is so high,
the winds of time so strong, it is inevitable you’ll fall.
And your sly habituation is to cry foul, murder and mayhem: but
this is the cauldron that the witches set to brewing feminism in.
Picture by Steve Karn
Poem by Chris Madoch
Music by Timur Iskandarov
In the sand that reflects, each morning
I measure the flow. Molecules move through
aging veins. Hair, once soft and dark, now
becomes hard. Like a black night filling up
with stars, silver creeps in. Dissolution whispers,
and pauses for breath, between lips that suckle scars,
not borne in the womb. Skin loosens bones,
years of lines and blemishes carry on
I reflect on how deep the memories course. It is a puddle
I think I can enter, without meeting wetness; I mis-judge
depth and register water pouring in, the accumulation,
the piling up of moments, worn and transformed,
by remembering and not remembering, experiencing and not.
Echoes of all ages slip between my wrinkles and the baby
I once was. I recall scenes from times out of sync
with memories I have forgotten. Searching in mirrors, I see
Picture by Dean Pasch
Poem by Dean Pasch
Music by Sandra Hollstein