Pops, Dis Playa Need Ta Roll
They leave home singing, return home singing,
iPhones providing a soundtrack to their days
as they overdub the lyrics with an aggressive,
more frenzied version of their own.
But singing is not right, not in the technical
sense of the word, an unqualified misnomer
that would have traditionalists seething
in their graves— sonorous crooners who
devoted their lives to perfecting the range
of their sound; signature vocalists like Holiday,
Pavarotti or even good olé Blue Eyes;
their throats emotive as any instrument.
How modulation of timbre transports
feeling into worlds unknown, even a single
note rolled in glissandro can transfix.
But my boys could care less about that—
music as a vehicle, spiritual medium with
transformative properties. My desire to be
moved lame as the word gobbledygook.
Their base requirement visceral: rap the body
can feel, words that rise defiant, defendant;
brash sentiment carried mostly on the wing
of bass and rhyme. After dinner my son
pimps in his self-affected gangsta: Pops,
dis playa need to roll… I got beats to make
this nigga feel like drippin. Then he thumps
his chest with an inverted peace-sign.
Smiles thinly. Scrolls through graphic
soundbites on iTunes rapping over the top
of his favorites: Tupac, 2 Chainz, Biggie
and Wiz; ownership meant to impress.
He tells me Rock is dead. I think to
counter, wish to tell him he’s got it
wrong, there’s much more to music
than this. But thinking is where
it starts and ends.
This reliance on spiritual balance
A far remove from its initial days
When I practiced The Upanishads in one
Hand and held the braided hose
Of a hookah in the other like an umbilical
Connecting me to the rich omphalos of God.
Meditation a zeitgist in the 80’s.
As the Beatles and Maharishi disappeared
In the rear-view, Wall Street’s
Three-piece-suits loomed king.
But at college I was smitten with Birkenstocks
And the regurgitated vibe of Woodstock,
the lanky TA’s chakra—hipster minyan
To professor So&So of Far Eastern Religion—
That accompanied me across The Quad
After lecture. He made pursuit of transcendentalism
Seem as cool as dropping the needle
On the Talking Heads, a tab of windowpane
On the eve of a Dead show.
But Enlightenment’s novelty wore off
Like a monk’s interest in the secular.
And then the world does what it does
And life did what it did and like
Finding a rhythmic breath
Or frying an egg sunny-side-up,
I finally got the center to hold.
To know then what we know now…
Well, we’ve all heard that one before.
Tony Tracy is the author of two poetry collections: The Christening and Without Notice. He is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in North American Review, Flint Hills Review, Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Hotel Amerika, Painted Bride Quarterly, Potomac Review and various other magazines and journals.
“What caravan did the Thousand Oaks shooter [terrorist] come from?”
– Don Lemon (to Trump)
Recent news ended, Terrorists suspected.
Among the frenzied crowd cued
in Harvest Bakery’s lunch line,
a mother’s quietude commands.
Her shoulder-length brown hair frames a smooth ivory-skinned face;
her brown silk raincoat nearly camouflages
her severed left arm carried
invisible like the dead –
like the seen-unseen homeless?
Like the increasing refugees who,
after journalists air their plights, disappear fractured
by the next featured frame?
Faces press upon clay memory –
embed the snapdragon-black eyes
like those of this mother’s adopted
Ethiopian daughter who peers
from behind the silk rain of her mother’s coat – peers
from her perfectly proportioned Nefertiti face.
Peers have taunted her – have demonized
her alleged illegitimacy, yet her mother’s got sand –
Huck Finn’s words spoken
of Mary Jane, kind to all strangers
(kind to all of us new in every moment.)
She has let go.
With invisible arm she marries the dead,
the disenfranchised, the migrants,
the unseen witness. Never choosing between keeping neighbors
or adopting daughters, she says yes to her love-life.
Hugging that yes her child tugs the sleeve hiding
the map of woe bound for imperfect paradise.
by Ann Reed
Ann Reed is a contemplative scholar, poet, and Chinese calligrapher-brush painter. She has taught English Literature and Theory of Knowledge in Malaysia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and China, where traditional cultures value literature as good medicine. Her postdoctoral research studies the mending arts of Early Modern English and Contemporary Poetry. Her Chinese calligraphy and brush paintings have been exhibited in Portland, Oregon and at the Shenzhen Fine Arts Museum in China. Her poems have been published in various literary journals, one of which won the Fall 2018 Lazuli Literary Group poetry prize.
Sister, it’s flooding sunshine. Days drop
like caramels. I turned my back
on you, the hunted dogs
of our girlhood. Here’s the devil
coming from my palm, the mad
raisins and relished dirt. I’m in
the open, the cream soda bad.
Is rubber your only feeling?
Wooded and measured out, you
stomach the untried, the vanilla
pudding that won’t feed you.
Why did you take orders?
A cube of hesitations,
the learned magic won’t leave us.
by Kimberly Lambright
Kimberly Lambright’s debut poetry collection, Ultra-Cabin, won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award and was published in 2016. Lambright has been awarded fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and Sou’wester Arts Colony; her work appears in Columbia Poetry Review, phoebe, ZYZZYVA, Sink Review, Bone Bouquet, The Boiler, Wicked Alice, Big Bridge, Little Patuxent Review, Texas Poetry Calendar, Not Very Quiet, and The Burnside Review. She lives in Brooklyn.
Mother earth is off the wagon.
According to reliable eye witnesses,
She’s been drinking again:
Hammered on Greenland ice melt,
Falling down drunk from glacial rebound,
Knocked off her axis from mantel convection.
When this reporter confronted her
About her alleged drinking problem,
She denied, denied, denied.
I’m not a drunk, she said.
I’m as sober as a judge
At a high school beer blast.
Hey! I’m a pop culture celebrity,
A rock star with an agenda.
Any planet can spin on its axis.
But me, I put a new spin on things. Listen.
Earth vacillates, undulates,
Rattles, rolls and shakes,
Shivers, quivers, quakes.
Ask any social tweeter,
We totter as we teeter.
We wibble as we wobble,
Just a hiccup of a bobble.
We sway as we play,
We’re surreal as we reel,
While twirling and swirling
Out of orbit we’re hurling.
We sprang from the void
In a big bang boom,
To that we’ll return,
Womb becomes tomb.
I swear by the sun, moon, and stars, she said,
And every can of beer I ever drank,
I’m stone sober as I tell you this.
Now there’s a sobering thought.
by Susan Martin
Susan Martin is a retired English and creative writing teacher. She has had poetry and short fiction published in several literary journals and anthologies. Most recently she has had a short story published in Brandt Street Press’ anthology, Dammit I Love You, and poetry published in The Aquillrelle Wall of Poetry: Book Seven, WestWard Quarterly: Summer, 2018, and Blue Unicorn Magazine: Fall, 2018
If This Is Paradise Why Are We Still Driving
— Brendan Lorber, June 2018
on the occasion of my seventy-third birthday celebration,
having finally begun to learn some rules of paved roads
‘stead of taking usual straightshot hellbent damn 405
freeway from spitfire West L.A. down to pacific
Redondo Beach, fam elects to use an iPhone
Waze app to navigate lazy side streets —
where wobbly young lowlifes in pajamas
vape nicotine or maybe marijuana —
that then meet up with ocean views
as soon as possible which fluid
continuity more than makes
up for few extra minutes
sort of like coming up
slowly gently coolly
when you’re doing
SCUBA diving —
oy to thus avoid
by Gerard Sarnat
Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards, and authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published by Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Johns Hopkins and in Gargoyle, American Journal of Poetry (Margie), Main Street Rag, MiPOesias, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Voices Israel, Blue Mountain Review,Tishman Review, Suisun Valley Review, Fiction Southeast, Junto, Heartwood, Tiferet, Foliate Oak, Parhelion, Bonsai plus featured in New Verse News, Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords, Floor Plan, Good-Man-Project, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Poetry Circle, Fiction Southeast, Walt Whitman Tribute Anthology and Tipton Review. “Amber of Memory” was the single poem chosen for my 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day 2017 as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. For Huffington Post/other reviews, readings, publications, interviews; visit GerardSarnat.com. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO and Stanford Med professor. Married for a half century, Gerry has three kids/ four grandkids so far.
You take a memory and a healthy dollop of salted butter take a swig of cheap flat beer and plop a slab of date expired ham or chicken like your great grandmother did after showing you the pin cushion and how to darn a sock or make a doily soft light through porthole windows on either side of the unused fireplace jars of preserves in the mud room a little sunshine on an unpainted porch and you let it fry until corners start to curl like her wispy gray hair not yet bloodied by the car accident that took her keys away and bruised her forehead then brown one side of two slices of doughy white bread in grease until steam rises and wheat browns the smell of meat and sugar falling across her wool carpets darkened chairs and ottomans her touch through food of the Great Depression all dumplings and noodles her oak knot knuckles covered by silk skin laying out thin-sliced American cheese across side-browned meat with layers of family stories and cinnamon crackers dipped in whole milk a cheese sandwich on the pine wood counter crisp on the outside and tender inside like the grateful hands that formed food and child before scooping up the bubbling leavings in the pan to mix into a gravy that was poured over a small boy’s life.
by Brad G. Garber
Brad has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, DASH, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Ginosko Journal, Junto Magazine, Vine Leaves Press, Split Rock Review, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, Aji Magazine and other quality publications. 2013 & 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.