Tony Tracy

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.

 

 

Sunny-Side-Up

 

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

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.

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

        “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.

Book of Life

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.

Breaking News

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,

Oscillates, pulsates,

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

visions from “high” country: our So. Cal. so-called makeshift decompression chamber

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

The Bends.

 

 

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.

Trash Food

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.

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