poem26 Aug 2019 08:00 pm
Depiction of the demon Belphégor, a demon of discovery and of ingenious inventions who often takes the form of a young woman, from J.A.S. Collin de Plancy. Dictionnaire Infernal. Paris: E. Plon, 1863. Page 89.

by Robert Borski  

Behind, and forward, 
the two symmetrical strings 
of zeros splay out like
triskaidekal scourges,
but now, half-way through eternity
(for this is how long it takes
to summit the midpoint of 
[10^30 + 666 x 10^14 + 1]),
the Number of the Beast
has finally been reached, numbingly
recited by the scorched lips
of those condemned to count
to the prime's terminus as punishment.

Nicely done then, my pretties,
says Belphegor -- accountant-prince of Hell
and prototype of every math teacher
who ever wielded chalk and found
sexual satisfaction in the thorn bushes
of differential calculus. But he, in fact,
can barely wait to announce 
his next assignment --
prove the primality of the number 
named in his honor. 

Just be sure to show the math.


poem04 Aug 2019 06:58 pm
The State Ballroom, St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. F.J. Davis, c.1845.

Davian Aw 

the ballroom is blue with the glaze of evening
white marble ethereal beneath chandelier lights
on the stage, the poor, savoring the final few
moments as themselves.

announcer at podium playing the crowd-
ten thousand six! ten thousand six hundred
from the lady with the cat; do I hear twelve?
twelve thousand?

hammers fall amidst cheers, over and over
crystal vials fixed in place, gears turning, that cursed
machine building up to a deafening roar;
bodies drop to the floor in a grey haze of grief
vials glowing bright with stolen gifts.

bidders claim their prizes.
on the stage, a young girl
hears her voice emerge in sweet melody
from the throat of her buyer,
bowing to thunderous applause.

poem15 Jul 2019 08:00 am
Dead Soldiers, László Mednyánszky  (1852–1919)   

Andrew L. Roberts

the dawn chills the air and lays her veil
soft upon my upturned face
shattered stones and blasted bits of mortar press
sharp against my broken spine and I am surrounded now
by the damp nutmeg of your sycamore leaves and ashes
how did you find me among so many?
was it fate that brought us together in this place
or only chance after all?
I did not want this kind of ending
my flesh and bones left to become anonymous
and lost forever in this foreign patch of dirt
but the choice was never mine was it?
or if it was I must’ve missed the moment of its choosing
to have stumbled so blindly into my own un-dug grave
yet here I am and here I will remain
and here you are with me this morning
caught in the worst kind of affair
your whispered words are meaningless in my ear
dead words from a dead language for a dead man
how can they sound so sweet?
tenderly and with more love than I have ever known
your cold hands enter the wound in my chest
to find and cradle my heart
you say my name
and that word at least I understand
you say it three times over and then it’s done
breathless I can no longer see the sun
only those cold stars in your dark eyes
as you press your lips to mine in this our first and final kiss.
poem08 Jul 2019 03:16 pm
from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1000s_of_Shopping.JPG

Josh Pearce

The so-called "Sapiens sapiens"
lived in a system of cave dwellings
called "Department Stores"
set in strip malls pop-
ulated by the ubiq store whores

who snapped their bubble come
as they engaged in open market,
bartered for pigskin leather,
chewing their cud gum,

buying the flayed skins
of their latest kills
:they dance now:
clip clop clip clop
jiggity jog

and rubbing the fatty perfume
glands of intelligent mammals
all over themselves
to mask the sweat
of their own arousal
:now they dance again:
clip clop clop clip
jiggity jig

supreme desire for glittering
necklaces of glass
and bone, worthless things
to show sexual prowess
and mental subservience

all their food is candy,
liquid, and ingested
in two-liter doses injected
to the bladder directly

and sapiens' impressive discovery
in geometry
that increased surface area
is perceived significant
only by the ignorant
Q.E.D. "big screens equal little minds."

The last Irrational War
was fought only with dropped
atom malls—what they called
"City Killers"—into the suburbia
by general execs in bombproof
coke bottle terraria

(The ghost says, "Wipe out our termite-
mound boroughs with cleansing waves,
so proud we were of our fungus tea gardens
and of our aphid slaves.")

poem24 Jun 2019 08:02 am
Peasant carts before the puddle (detail) by Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalsk (1849 to 1915)

Paige Smith

when it rains
it pours
when it rains
we hide
water unwinds
our space-time
water drips 
down the bark
and buildings
from the gutter
forms puddles
on the sidewalk, in parking lots
on country paths, in backyards
we lock the doors, keep the kids in
pray for the sun

hands appear
from those puddles
heave themselves
from the rim of those
little innocent lakes
onto sturdy land
up climb those heavy
from elsewhere
smelling of
ancient agony
dripping in decay
their insatiable weapons
scraping our streets
the places we reserve
for the sick
the places in front of 
our mailboxes
the places where
children draw in chalk
in these stolen drenched days
they walk amongst us, sniffing for meat
shaking off their radiation
in the showers of this world

and from the puddles
we glance
their netherworld
alien aurora borealis
vomit-colored sky
over stricken slums
where surely
some apocalypse 
has already occurred
surely their rains
descend in acid-flavor
and they see
in their streets
the greenery, the lushness, 
mysterious portals where we
fat-covered folk, so juicy, live
they decide
to step through.

sometimes they seize
a prisoner
a dinner
shoving them
into gutterless space
makes no splash
they tumble down
into the horrored space
across what we know as space

we were blessed
by drought
for a long time
invariable and threatening
the clouds
rolled in
faster than the future
and opened 
themselves up
like jaws
eager to feed
the dry earth
eager to feed
us to the beasts

in the vast
asphalt sea
the grocery store
parking lot
my wife
had no chance
snatched before
she could reach
the handle of the door
pulled down
by the non-faces
and digitless hands
from the nightmare planet
the hands of hell.

the rain
now down
to a drizzle,
the worst 
the formless 
to their disturbing corner
of the universe
our brutal future
our savage past
I walk
down my secure 
the neighbors
dare not look
through their windows
I bring myself
to the park
so dug-up
by dogs,
find a me-size hole
fearful puddle
I peer into
that improbable 
their world
might have been
like ours, once
might have been
friendly, green.

Some of them
might be merciful

Only one way
to know.
I step into 
the rain
water which is not wet
I step into 
the doorway
and disappear
from this earth.
poem17 Jun 2019 07:23 am
Painting of Figs and Beetle, by Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670)

Colleen Anderson

She organizes, mindlessly
scurrying back and forth
bringing in groceries, creating lunches
filing, ensuring all things ordered
sometimes it seems she’s rolling shit uphill
when no one watches she stretches
an extra set of legs, pretends to dance
yet worries discovery means more work
She clicks her teeth
a hard rasp, mandibles to cut
her frustration, dirty clothes on beds
soiled dishes on counters, ties
to obligations, her self unattended
the reasons he can’t paint, or clean or love
she may as well be a bug, a beetle
for all she gets underfoot
She is good, so very good
staying in line, following the rules
they don’t notice her eyes watching
everything, the many facets
as she sits so very very still, pinned
as if under glass, inspecting every grain
the small secrets under the bed
tucked in a pocket, hidden in an external account
She has her own secret
wedged beneath her strong chitin shell
the beautiful clothes her city camouflage
feelings shielded from a careless brushoff
how she’s kept her hopes, desires to change
release erotic dreams burrowed away
and most of all her wish to be alive
not just a jewelled makech on a chain
Some day soon she will spread protective elytra
drop the guise that she cares
reveal her inner self, the vestigial heart
stretch out her wings, fly high
into the woods, a city, another home
where she will change, be seen
for what she is, no longer hide her strength
and what she will become 

poem10 Jun 2019 08:02 am
Amazing Stories Cover from 1927

Robert Borski

Sorry, Mr. Bradbury, there are no lemonade
stands or white picket fences here; nor 
will you find sterile encampments or fields
of shitatoes, Messieurs Musk and Damon.
Rather, this is the other red planet, the one
that exists on the underside of the Arean dream —
reality TV Mars.

Here there are neither pristine lakes, 
nor carefully-manicured ski runs at Olympus Mons, 
but used condoms in the canals of Schiaparelli,
and the broken warriors that smile back 
to you from skid row in downtown Helium
(at least the ones who made it back
from the Battle for Grover’s Mill) have
the meth-head dentition of that other Burroughs.
(Bill, not E.R.)

Meanwhile, even as trailer trash princesses
proclaim their right to choose (“You can’t 
have an omelette without breaking eggs”),
the royal family of John and Deja Carter-Thoris
attempts to suppress photos of their piss-drunk 
son passed out in a smashed rocket-sled, 
and are still clinging to the diversionary tactic 
innundating the airwaves about how planetary 
hero and pride of the Space Corps, 
Commander Marvin Martian, is about to fake-
land on Phobos with his robot dog. 

poem03 Jun 2019 08:00 am
Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich- Basement Ward by Edward Ardizzone

by Michelle Muenzler

“You shouldn’t have come,” she says,
pressing her fingers weakly against the ventilator,
plastic tray across her lap,
plastic food, plastic cup;
her tea is long cold.

I shrug;
“I needed to know.”

I have no tea here, no cup;
nothing but words
and an empty smile
stretched far too long across my face.

Outside the room, nurses
scurry past,
oblivious to their newest visitor.

“Well,” she says, “now you see. Now you know.”

And because she says it, it must be true,
and I know that it should be enough,
and yet…

And yet still I say, “I’ll come again,”
and push back my chair as if it matters,
as if that little detail will fit everything
into a box I can understand,
into an object I can hold.

She sighs.
Shoves feebly at her tray.
“You should stop,” she says,
“stop while you still can.”

And I wonder a moment if by coming here
I’ve changed her, or rather if
I’ve changed me,
or if everything’s just the same and there’s no meaning to the me’s or her’s
or any those of us between.

“Tomorrow,” I say to her, and before she can tell me no,
blink hard and set the world agog,
thrust myself back into the when which I belong.

And now
my now, to be specific,
  not hers, nor anybody else’s–
stare at the blank wall of my apartment cubicle,
nearby kettle whistling, same as when I left but half a breath ago…

and to myself I say,
“Tomorrow; yes, tomorrow,”
and breathing deep, blinking hard,
plot my path to yet another day.

poem27 May 2019 07:24 am
Sadko by Ilya Repkin, 1876

David C Kopaska-Merkel

You thought you were drowning,
That was why you panicked,
Thrashed about, would not listen.
After that, you wouldn't wash your hands,
Wouldn't take a shower,
Only used the microwave to cook,
And paper plates to eat from.

You said you found fish flopping
On the floor of your bedroom;
No one believed that,
Except me.
Because I love you,
I brought the sea to you in dreams,
But I wouldn't have let you drown.

I wanted to fill you up, it's true,
But then you could have stayed with me
In my watery domain
Of corals and anemones
All waiting to greet you;
Octopi and cuttlefish
Would be your servants,
Hammerheads your guards,
In a glorious life that would never end.

I know it's scary,
But I would never let you drown.
I will try again tonight.
Do this for me:
When you feel the water rising,
Just breathe deeply;
It'll be alright.
poem06 May 2019 08:00 am
Landscape at Dallol volcano, Afar Region, Ethiopia. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68051688

by Josh Pearce

The sky turns rusty
And I ask why does it do that
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why the blade of the moon is always sharp

Summer snow on the skin of the rocket
And I ask why is that
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why a cloud will soon carry him away from me

My lungs are fire every time beneath him
And I gasp why it hurts
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why I will always need him like air

I say if he loves the thrill of it so much
And I ask then why’d he even land here
And he says, “oxygen”
Which No he’s wrong
Which why the fire in my eyes,
                                          fog in my head,
                                            sharp blade in hand

His lips become late-harvest plums
And I ask what they taste like
And he doesn’t say
Which is he all right?
Which why he doesn’t say anything, ever after.


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